Would you say you’re a good writer? Or a bad one?
This was the question Entrepreneur’s editor in chief Jason Feifer, host of the Build for Tomorrow podcast, posted on LinkedIn recently.
OK, I’ll bite, I thought. I selected “good.”
Here were the poll results:
Wow — More than half thought they were good, and in total, 83% considered themselves either good or, at the very least, not bad.
Feifer cites a report that found one third of employees at America’s blue-chip companies are bad writers — and companies spend more than $3 billion a year teaching them writing.
So what’s the problem?
Everyone loves to blame texting, or the internet as a whole for why “young people today can’t write.”
The idea that everything was better in the Good Old Days rarely holds up as true, and in this case, with regard to writing, isn’t true. Especially when we try to pin all our troubles on “tech,” which has been around for all of five minutes. (Before that, people blamed TV. And romantic novels. Even newspapers.)
Feifer explains how a decision back in the late 19th century changed how writing was taught and even defined, and how we never quite recovered. He unpacks all of it in a recent episode of his podcast (“Why People Can’t Write and How to Fix That”) which you seriously have to listen to.
The boiled-down version:
The educational system missed an opportunity to actually teach writing in a meaningful way. Schools began “requiring” that students be able to write, and measuring their ability…before they knew the how and why of actually teaching it in a meaningful way.
Harvard believed it was their job to teach Great Literature, not teach students to write.
So what did they do? They took the lowest-scoring people and stuck them in remedial writing…which no one wanted to teach. So imagine how great those classes were.
Our educational system screwed the pooch on this one. And as a result, lots and lots of people to this day feel stunted, stilted, and stuck when it comes to putting words on a page.
But. Regardless of whether you grew up liking, loathing, or fearing the process of writing, or wondering why in hell you’d need it (like algebra), you can discover, or re-discover, the joy of writing and its effect.
Because those who can effectively, powerfully persuade from the page will always have a huge advantage over those who don’t.
And fact is, if you can read, you can write. You’re not missing a special gene or talent. It’s not your fault you feel stuck, it’s not any one teacher’s fault, and it certainly isn’t Apple’s fault.
If you want to not just improve your own writing, but also enjoy it—yes I mean that—consider joining me for The Sprint, which starts THIS week!
I started this program at the height of the pandemic, and it has grown to be my most popular program.
Why? For six weeks, you get to:
…Write in real time with us, to a prompt. Every week, even twice a week if you like.
…Practice expressing your ideas and stories. You’ll get them out of your head, onto the page, and into the world on any platform or stage you like.
…Discover your own strengths as a writer. There’s no reason you can’t write; you’ve been taught, and told, the wrong things.
…Share your work in a non-competitive, criticism-free environment. And get the kind of feedback you should have been getting all along.
…Feel better, clearer, braver, bolder about your work and about sharing it.
Learn more about the Sprint here (Club members save 10%!).