Two Writing Truisms Upended

Well some conventional wisdom might be disrupted anyway. Two interesting writing and grammar related stories in The Atlantic popped up on my feeds today.

  1. Social media can make writers better!
  2. Traditional grammar instruction can make writers worse.

Too long; don't want to read? Here's the gist: Want to be a better writer? Read and write more.

Now neither of these are huge surprises. Did you ever find yourself diagramming a sentence before writing it? I have tended to wax eloquent (or at least long winded) on these two topics when somebody will even stand still and even just pretend to listen. I didn't think these things because of teaching experience, I held to them because of writing experience.

Back when I was writing legal briefs and memos, I found that Twitter had a refreshing and sometimes salutary effect, especially on my headings in persuasive pieces. Headings in legal writing are quite difficult to write. They need to be concise to be helpful. It wasn't unusual for me to see (and to write) multi-line headings. It's acceptable, but it's certainly not ideal.

A few weeks of Twitter use did wonders for my economy and efficiency with words. Although a few of my more technical headings probably still wrapped to two lines, the frequency was far lower, and even when I did write a longer heading, I conveyed so much more information with it.

This is another example of social media writing improvement, it's also an example of learning writing by reading and writing—rather than by memorizing rules and diagramming sentences. It nicely illustrates that there are writing benefits to social media.

Daily confirmation bias pat on the back? check!