I’ve seen many posts in recent years about the declining need for professional writers. In general, most of them explain the hypothesis by saying that, somehow, technology is going to push writers out of their jobs and we are going to live in a world where computers produce endless amounts of content. This has caused a lot of young hopefuls, and even old hopefuls, to reconsider their paths. I mean, it’s all well and good to do what you love, but if that doesn’t pay the bills then you are in for a hard life, right?
But I think it’s a load of garbage.
Let’s look at e-books for a perfect example. I was recently dubbed a “purist” when it comes to books, and it’s a badge I will gladly wear on my shoulder. I don’t like e-books. I need the ever-wonderful feeling of a real book in my hands that doesn’t have a battery life, that doesn’t die if it accidentally gets wet, and that can proudly sit on a shelf and claim its place in my collection.
When e-books first made their way into the world of consumers, countless articles were printed claiming that “the world of publishing is at an end!”. Yes, well, that’s not quite what happened. Paper books are still sitting in or around the same number as they were when digital books came to life. In fact, the two seem to be living together quite peacefully, instead of taking up arms and fighting to the death.
Books are old things. And old things take a long time to exterminate. It’s not just what they deliver, but what they represent. No matter what happens, I have a feeling that they’ll be around for a long time in paper format.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”—Ernest Hemingway
The same thing is happening with writers. Our purposes may have changed—where once we wrote content for newspapers and pamphlets, now we write it for online websites—but we are still in demand. In order to meet Google’s extensive and complicated algorithms, big sites need to have fresh, keyword-rich, and original content. Duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and irrelevant posts get you dinged, and being in Google’s bad books isn’t something you want to experience.
We’re more in demand than we have been in a long time. If you truly want to be a writer, now is the time to start pushing for it. We’re never really going to go out of style, although the demand may wax and wane, as everything else does. As we enter into another period of the digital era, writers are becoming more respected, needed, and compensated than they have been in a long time.
Think about it this way: the internet is made up entirely of content. That content could be blog posts, articles, books, instructions, or just about anything else. The internet, the most popular thing in our world right now is based on what we writers do.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”—Robert Frost
Back in the day, being a writer meant going through a publisher, having your work rejected, and possibly becoming published at some point. We don’t have to do that now. I am writing a post at this very second that I decided to write. It won’t be reviewed by anyone except myself, the content hasn’t been tweaked for a certain audience, and it won’t go through a submission process. That in itself is something wonderful.
Of course, if you want to be a writer, you will not always be able to choose what you write. I’m employed as a full-time marketing writer, and sometimes I find my projects to be a little dull because they are non-fiction and they’re always based on law, real estate, finance, family, or estate planning. There are no dragons in estate planning, and finance is about as dry as a desert, but I’m not complaining. I’ll write whatever I’m asked to, and I will do it well because I’m a writer and that’s just what I want to be.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”—Anton Chekhov
What do you think about the way that the internet has changed the writing profession? Are you a writer now, or do you wish that you were?