• Erin L. Miller

AN ARGUMENT FOR WRITERS

Updated: Oct 2, 2020


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

A writer voicing an argument for writers might seem a bit—gauche? As a writer, though, it’s something I think about a lot. In an age that seems to increasingly devalue writing as content forms like photo and video take front stage, the ol’ dependable written word seems to have been all but forgotten. Different forms of content go through different periods of popularity. What we tend to forget during these times is that each one is integral. Words are no exception.

1. Writers are great storytellers.

There’s been a recent trend in studies outlining the positive effects of storytelling. Storytelling began as an oral means to chronicle history before people started putting pen to paper. Whether you’re writing or speaking, good storytelling has the same effect: it engages and stimulates the brain. This is why we’re more attracted to people who are good storytellers, why podcasts like Serial are such a huge success, and why we’re more likely to buy goods & services we feel emotionally connected to. In short, people are more likely to buy into something (emotionally or literally) if they feel invested in it. They’re looking for an experience.

Chances are if you’re a writer, you’re also an avid reader. Writers grow up on tales from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Rowling, Dante, Tolkien. They know what makes a good page-turner. Part of this is knowing what works from years of reading. Part of this has to do with human behavior.

2. While a writer’s first love is writing, her second is psychology.

Writers employ a number of subtle linguistic mechanisms that many readers aren’t even aware of. Like the fact that different vowel frequencies elicit different emotions (high frequency sounds like “ee” and “ai” promote brighter, happier feelings while low frequencies like “oo” and “oh” promote lower, gloomier feelings). Or that our ability to connect with something comes from finding likenesses or patterns, many of which manifest in language (this is the function of devices like metaphor or alliteration). Or using active language to elicit a call to action. Or the fact that reading fiction makes us more empathetic.

Writers know the behavioral impact of placing the right words together.

3. Words and images are two peas in a pod.

While images can deliver meaning effectively on their own, we still rely on words to provide information. One of the hallmarks of advertising is striking a balance between the two. This is why ad campaigns like the VW Lemon are so successful. The ad wouldn’t make sense without the words (also, humor goes a long way). On a website, the written content informs the design (and vice versa). One doesn't function as well without the other.

4. Writers know how to “read the room.”

All throughout my time in higher education, I was told the same piece of advice: know your audience. When I taught composition at Bowling Green, I told my students the same thing. We speak of those voicing things in wrong company as not able to “read the room.” In social atmospheres, in business, or in the arts, you have to be cognizant of who you’re writing for. It takes empathy, intuition, and practice. And it’s something writers tap into well.

5. Writers make connections.

Writers find enjoyment from connecting with people. Amidst all this recent discussion of the decline of human connection due to increased technology use, this is especially important. While there’s no arguing the necessity of the face-to-face interaction, writers have been connecting with people for hundreds of years without ever needing to meet the reader in person.

In marketing, writers engage and inform. In the arts, writers surprise and ignite. Rooted in both is the art of connection through language.

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