Why write it?

“Only 16% read word by word.” Jakob Nielsen, a web design expert, makes this point that makes this blog seem almost unnecessary. If only 16% will actually read what I am writing, why write it? Since Professor Price would probably not be happy if I just quit writing all together, I decided to simply be more intentional about the way I write. Rather than just writing as much as I can to fill the page or fulfill the proper word count, I will think about the words I use. I will make each word matter. Carroll’s chapters were specifically about how to write for the Internet, while Zinsser focused on specific aspects of writing such as nonfiction, memoirs, and the tone/ sound of your voice. Carroll stressed the importance of the visual design interacting with the words on the screen. If the site does not look good, most likely few people will read it. Carroll also reports that Nielsen found that the word count of an online source should be about half of a print source. People simply do not read as much online. Their eyes begin to hurt, it is easy to move on to something else, they get distracted, etc. There are countless reasons, but the point is, people want fast and easy when it comes to reading in the digital world. Short sentences, active verbs, and direct statements can help keep the reader’s attention. In Headlines and Hypertext, Carroll emphasizes the importance of headlines, sub headlines, and even sub-sub headlines to break up text. This also serves the scanning society in which we now live. If the headlines don’t grab their attention, people will quickly move on. Surprisingly, Carrroll encouraged against cute or puny headlines, which (although I usually fail) I almost always at least attempt in my blog. He says they should be straightforward and direct, because sometimes that is all the readers will read. Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well, is becoming one of my new favorites. I have never considered myself an extremely talented writer, but it is something I admire in others–people I know, but also people I read online. The chapter that has made me think the most is the one on Memoirs and telling our personal stories. There definitely has to be a balance, where you are not sharing every intimate detail of your life, but rather what matters to move the story forward. The writers I know that do this do it incredibly well and it makes their writing enticing and relatable. I think it also helps to learn about who is writing and feel like you know them, even if they are a stranger. Memoirs are a vehicle for that kind of storytelling that draws readers in and grasps their focus. I also thought his point about so much of our writing being nonfiction now was interesting as well. I love a good, classic fiction story, but it is not what takes up my time devoted to reading. We live in a society that likes to do, do, do and can’t seem to slow down and smell the roses, if you will. We like everything to serve a purpose, if we are going to spend our precious time on it. Reading a fiction book, “just for fun,” does not serve a distinct purpose. But, a non-fiction book on relationships or politics or writing, seems to make us feel more accomplished and like we have invested our time well. sb10067166g-001Lastly, Zinsser discussed our voice, which I found very intriguing. I often struggle to create a voice that is me. I try to sound more creative or more intelligent or more witty, but really I am just me. I have altered my voice to fit my subjects in my writing for years. This chapter was a game changer for me. I am constantly thinking about who I am writing to and tailoring my style to fit my audience. Zinsser encouraged me to develop a voice that others recognize in my writing, rather than trying to make my voice fit someone else’s mold. Zinsser also made an impression on me when he wrote, “Freshness is crucial. Taste chooses words that have surprise, strength, and precision” (Zinsser, 235).  We are forced to read and take in so much information; I want my writing to be so full of surprise and strength and precision that it sticks out in people’s minds and makes an impact. That’s all for tonight! Thanks for reading!

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