Monday, February 8, 2016
We Need More Writers
Coming from someone who is keenly aware of the competition and how a glut of writers threaten to take food off my table, send me to a premature retirement and will one day land me behind the wheel of my Lexus, Ubering Angelenos to LAX, you might find it strange that I wish more people would write, but I do.
Keep in mind, I'm not saying we need more copywriters. Hell no, we need fewer of those.
But we do need more people familiar with the notion of structure, composition and disciplined thinking.
You see, with the advent of the computer, the internet and the god-awful open office plan, we have lost something vital to the future -- the ability to express a thought with any degree of clarity. Speaking from experience, I know this to be true in the corporate world, but I suspect it applies elsewhere.
Today, we live in an age of abbreviated thinking. Texts, with no vowels. Decks, with bullet points but no insight. And last, but hardly least meaningful, Mood boards.
Let's not forget about the rise of the Emoji. If it's any indication of where American business is going, it won't be long before we're grunting at each other and drawing on cave walls like our ancestors.
I know you think I'm exaggerating but I'm not.
Recently overheard at the cubicle farm:
"Hey Bill, I was thinking about that project, what about flanges?"
"What? What about them?"
"I don't know, I was just thinking about flanges."
That's not the way it used to be.
From my days in the mailroom I remember a little something called the Interoffice Memo.
If a junior executive wanted to spring an idea on his or her cohorts, that junior executive took the time and the effort to spell it all out, from beginning to end, with a premise, logical proof points and a rock-solid conclusion that left no doubt this junior executive is upper management material.
Granted this was borne out of a Cover Your Ass mentality, but at least it forced people to think and properly write out their ideas. Moreover, it produced a sense of accountability. The world moves a lot faster since the days I pushed that damn mailroom cart up and down the hallways at Needham, Harper & Steers for $800 a month. But maybe we'd all be doing ourselves a favor if we just slowed down.
When I was staff Creative Director, a young team was presenting their ideas for a new campaign. As they papered the wall in my office with colored Post It Notes, the art director qualified the pitch...
"I just want to say these ideas aren't fully baked yet but I think we're onto something."
"Good," I told them, "bring it back when they're fully baked."