Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
The climb back to acceptable unemployment levels has been slow, and it seems one thing impeding U.S. workers is their inability to write effectively. A piece this week on the frustration of employers centers on what they're doing to improve employee writing.
Also, a look at graffiti as a writing form, inspirational trinkets, and the current way of agreeing with someone.
Employees can't write; employers are mad.
Here's another career opportunity for writers. According to this report from CNBC, several companies are getting deadly serious about improving the writing of their employees. These are often financial firms hiring top business students who probably dismissed the importance of good storytelling and strong prose long ago. A writing pro at T. Rowe Price had this to say:
"It's amazing, the frequent disconnect," he said. "These are people who all did the very best at the best schools, probably since preschool, but they really have not developed their writing skills to the degree that they would have to succeed in this organization."
Business schools are taking notice of the trend, too, often employing writing instructors. As mobile devices and laptops become an even more central part of our lives, I would bet this focus on writing in business will grow.
Writing on the wall:
If you Google "writing" as I often do looking for stories and ideas about writing, you'll almost always run into a story with some version of "Writing's on the wall" as a headline. For this story, it's actually appropriate. A graffiti exhibit at Red Bull Studios in New York is called "Write of Passage." The title is telling. Those who make graffiti claim to write
graffiti—not paint it or design it. By some of its early pioneers, graffiti is not considered street art, but more of a language:
But street art is not the same as graffiti, said Jenkins, though the terms are often used interchangeably. Street art is figurative imagery; graffiti is a form of writing.
I would guess more graffiti writers have gone on to design careers than writing careers, but it might be the art form that best combines the two worlds.
Writing inspiration on your desk:
What do you use to inspire you when you write? Lots of us keep little reminders of writing rules, or quotes about the temporary pain writing can bring, only to offer an even greater reward at the end. Novelist Russell Banks shares a creative one in this piece for The Atlantic
, a plaster angel with the words "Remember Death" inscribed on it.
I ... had to bring it home to our little apartment and hang it above my writing table, so that every time I looked up from my struggle to write my first poems and stories, I would see it, and I would remember death."
A hopeful reminder to get the most out of your writing and your life. Do you have any pieces of inspiration on your desk?
The 21st-century phrase for "I agree" is a question, and I was glad to see I'm not the only one bothered by it. Of course, when someone says, "I know, right?" it's spoken, almost never written. Eric Van Hoose hits on a connection between the expression and poor writing in this piece for Full Stop
Any composition instructor will tell you that student writing has long been full of the phrase “I feel”—a qualifier placed before a more definitive claim (often something factual) that weakens the writer’s voice and makes even otherwise clearheaded writing unbearably tentative, weak, and frustrating.
A reminder that facts are facts, that they should be written as such, and that there's nothing wrong with saying, "I agree."
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.