If there’s one skill that might not ever go away, I think it might be writing. Sure, other forms of communication have taken precedence. Video, for example, or podcasting. But there’s usually writing behind all those forms. Most people don’t just speak into the camera or microphone. They write something out.
I majored in Creative Writing, pursued an MFA, shifted gears to a Ph.D. in Literature, then shifted again to focus on Rhetoric and Composition, because I was drawn to writing as a craft. Poetry wasn’t quite the right genre for me. Instead, I was fascinated by more quotidien forms of communication, and in fact, wrote my dissertation on this new form of writing online called blogs and their place in the writing classroom. Since then, we’ve seen Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, among many other forms of communication. Blogs are, in fact, somewhat in decline. And yet, there’s still plenty of writing going on.
Besides writing here, which happens less frequently than I’d like, I write a ton for work. I’m constantly surprised by how much I write and how substantial most of it is. Sure there are quick emails, but also there are pieces for our blog, for marketing, longer communications to faculty, students, or parents. There’s a lot! And all of it is important. I know that not everyone is going to read everything I write, but a good many will not only read it, but analyze it, try to decry its meaning outside of the words on the screen. So many an email gets crafted with care, even though it might seem silly to some.
Communication in all its forms is what we do as humans. And if we’re doing it poorly, we’re not relating well to each other and that disconnect can lead to real problems. I work hard every day to write and speak in ways that communicate clearly. I find it to be one of the most challenging aspects of my work, but also one of the most rewarding. A brief conversation or well-worded email can clear up days of lack of clarity and can open up possibilities for greater understanding. I feel that keenly in my writing and speaking. I think we all should.