Most people feel some measure of frustration that their work makes little to no difference in the world.
Writers—who are often prone to melancholy and self-doubt—are especially vulnerable to professional anxiety.
What am I doing with my life? Will there be a job for me next year—or next week?
Unlike artists or engineers, who can point to sculptures or bridges and say, “I built that,” we writers have words. We construct narratives—which are often undervalued and underappreciated.
Writers have fallen on especially tough times. You’ve probably heard about the multitude of publications that have slashed editorial staff in favor of video-centric talent. Entire newsrooms have been culled in the quest for lucrative video ad dollars. Today, we’re all subject to the whims of anxious executives, social media sovereigns and the specter of automation.
The outlook seems bleak for those who write for a living, but let’s err on the side of hope for a moment. Let’s imagine a future where there will always be a place—someplace—for gifted, hardworking, flexible, multitalented writers. Here are just a few reasons why hope is justified:
Video and words need each other. Video and writing are not mutually exclusive. Videos need words—the right words—to pack a more persuasive punch.
For writers, there are opportunities beyond just jotting scripts. Writers can also play a crucial role in creating photo essays, podcasts, “graphic journalism” and other forms of digital storytelling.
The “pivot to video” is happening, whether we like it or not, so the onus is on writers to beef up their digital-centric writing savvy. Find a niche and gain expertise. Learn a new skill.
There is hope to remain relevant, but we must change with the times and update our skillsets to remain indispensable. The future is about “the survival of the most adaptable.”
Words still have the power to uplift, motivate and inspire. Advertisers are pushing the video trend, but most people still enjoy reading text. Words are still a viable, effective workhorse that can educate, enrich, engage or enrage.
There’s no doubt the robots are coming, but surely there will still be a need for writing infused with human context, emotion, empathy and experience?
Writers are still needed to convey crucial information. It’s been wryly noted that the many recent editorial staff layoff announcements have been delivered in writing—not on video. Writing is still an essential way to share important, complex ideas and information. That’s true for any number of internal and external communication efforts.
Beyond business, writers will still matter in a broader societal sense, too. We’ve never had more communication, and yet the world is drowning in chaotic noise. People are overwhelmed by ads, misinformation, social media and fake news. We crave more clarity and understanding of the truth.
Amid this information chaos and messaging mayhem, humanity needs impartial arbiters of language who can connect diverse people and personalities. We need communicators who can use their gifts to clarify misunderstandings and get people on the same page. That’s what writers can do.
Writers have a unique power to unite. We can repair communication breakdowns—if we use our powers for good.
Don’t get discouraged, nor give up. Your work matters, and so do you. Writers will survive the video wave—and whatever trend comes after that. So long as there are humans in need of information, writers will endure.