How Technology is Forcing Writers to Adapt

Originally published on Medium here!

I started out my writing career by writing those how-to, knowledge base type articles that you might find when you’re looking up how fix that pesky internet connection. It worked for where I was at the time, but ultimately that line of work left me bored and restless.

I started to move to where most writers aspire to and dipped my toes into the creative, storytelling field- writing short stories/novel, then moving to ad copywriting, UX writing, and eventually transitioning to UX design.

Often times I wonder if other writers go through the same process, or if it’s just me(turns out, it’s not just me). Was I cursed with a never-ending, bottomless pit of unsatisfied work fulfillment, or am I simply a product of the broader writers dilemma of always searching for lofty ideals of perfection?

I’m starting to realize that it’s neither.

Writers must go through what the rest of the world has already known, which is that to stay relevant and make a living, we need to adapt. Our skill is as high in demand as ever, but unless we’re working on the next Harry Potter series, our focus needs to remain focused, yet as fluid as possible.

And for a lot of us that means we need to be able to write copy to meet business demands, and often times, extending ourselves beyond writing itself. Fields like UX writing…

The Craft of UX Writing

Speaking of, UX writing is a relatively new term that’s being picked up by a lot of new tech companies to describe the words use to guide users through their journey map. In the olden days, we used to just throw a bunch of salesy type words like “buy today” and “act now” while supplies last (spoiler alert: supplies always last).

But those days are gone, and now companies are looking for UX writers to turn prospects into customers.

It’s almost like they’re realizing that UX copy is much more complex and nuanced that simply writing “click here” on their website. Duh.

As the UX Collective points out in their state of UX:

“The cross-pollination between UX and copy tends to grow in 2018, as the term ‘UX writing’ starts to be used to describe not only a technique, but also job titles within design companies.”

(If you’re a writer that’s new to the field, I highly, highly recommend learning how the masters write UX copy over at UX Hub)

Writing Disciplines Aside from UX Writing

Aside from UX writing there’s a multitude of high paying, well respected jobs that seek writing talents to address their needs.

For example, in my hometown of Seattle, Copywriters can still make a decent wage in Seattle and I consider it to be an industry full of challenge, fun, and sometimes booze-at least in the agency world.

Content writers can also make a decent sum, provided that you’re comfortable with SEO focused work like blog writing.

Content strategists can make quite a lot for a writing profession, but require a set of organization and strategic implementation of content than the more individualized content writing roles require.

As for me, I’m just happy to be here. I look at my work and:

  1. Feel lucky that I’m even making money writing for a living.
  2. Feel well-versed in a myriad of writing disciplines, rather than looking at it like I’m constantly changing my mind (who knows, Mad Men could come back and copywriting could be the hot thing again).

Study your craft with diligence, but be on the lookout for awesome new opportunities to keep the writing profession relevant.


Why Writers Should Ditch Their Smartphones (Occasionally)

Originally posted on

Smartphone addiction is a real and prevalent issue among many people today, myself included. In fact, of the 56% of Americans who own smartphones, many report feeling panicked and anxious when misplacing their mobile devices. This desperation to be connected at all times can be especially troubling for writers despite the vastness of the internet, and the overwhelming amount of information available at our fingertips.

It’s easy to get lost in your phone or tablet when browsing the web, reading online articles, and indulging in the endless world of social media. For many people, “taking a break” means surfing the internet and reading funny or interesting articles rather than checking their emails. However, you are still on your smartphone (or tablet) while doing this. Occupying your mind via technology at all times can be detrimental to your creative process, and thus your creative writing.

Today, it’s much easier to pick up your phone and go through the many applications you’ve downloaded when you become bored. By doing this, you are effectively preventing your mind from wandering, which is an essential activity for creative writers. A majority of writers credit their stories and ideas simply from their imaginations; something that can only be done when the mind is able to wander and reflect on the day, and the interactions that occurred throughout.

Have you noticed unique or eclectic ideas coming to mind more often while you are driving or in the shower? While you may not exactly be bored in these situations, your brain is receiving little stimulation, and thus begins to wander and reflect. Shoving your face into a smartphone when you are overcome with boredom does stimulate your brain, but in a way that prevents creative thought. A great way to conquer this is by forcing yourself to simply be bored. This may seem, well, boring, but make your smartphone technology unaccessible for a certain period of time, and get back to your roots of boredom. This can force you to think of a more creative outcome rather than simply grabbing the nearest mobile device or tablet.

What did you do as a child when you were bored before smart technology existed? Many people might answer playing outside, or just letting their mind wander in relaxing locations. Little did we know it, but these actions sparked our imaginations and creativity, and, depending on how long you’ve been writing, we may have written these experiences down in journals.

If you’re truly motivated to get some writing done, but know that your addiction is bad, there is software that can help you. Here are some apps that do this best, allowing you to free your mind and expand your creativity. Boredom is a small price to pay for productivity.
Pay attention to times in which you become bored while writing. If you aren’t inspired during a certain scene or piece of dialogue, there’s a good possibility your writers will feel that lack of inspiration. It’s times like this where most people will immediately feel compelled to grab their phones and spend hours on social media. Instead, study that specific scene and find out what it is that is lacking. It may be just one sentence throwing off the entire conversation. The more you analyze and think about your writing, the happier you’ll be with it through editing; something texting and checking emails cannot do.

How Newspapers Have Survived in the Digital Age

It is no secret that the outlook for the traditional American newspaper is looking undeniably grim. Sales of physical papers are down, newspaper publishers are shutting their doors, membership to renowned newspaper associations like the Newspaper Association of America — which has now changed its name to become the News Media Alliance — are dropping rapidly, and the word ‘newspaper’ is nearly meaningless to many news corporations.

Many attribute this steep drop-off in circulation to the ubiquity of technology and its ability to deliver news to the peoplewithout a fee. Others say that it is newspaper publishers’ own fault, as they focused too much of their time and resources into creating an online presence.

In spite of these pointed opinions, it is important to note that the newspaper’s decline is not due to the negligence of corporations, nor the disinterest of millennials. Instead, the newspaper is merely changing with the times, adapting itself in order to fit into the busy lives of its readers — or, in today’s terms, viewers. This is how newspapers have strived to survive in the digital age:

Print may be “dying,” but it is still profitable. While there is no denying that circulation is down, many publishers still make a majority of their profit from their print versions. This is due to companies that still invest in print advertising. Although this form of advertising is also slowly waning, it is still exponentially more profitable than digital advertising, especially since these ads are known to be more memorable to and impactful on audiences.

Technology cannot rule all. Although many fear that jobs will be stolen away by artificial intelligence, it is evident that the supervision — and mere presence — of humankind is still very much necessary to any business around the globe. After all, no robot can be programmed to emulate human discretion — as evidenced by a major blunder Facebook made just last year.

The issue spun out of control when the popular social media platform turned to an algorithm to track and report trending news stories, as opposed to allowing humans to select newsworthy topics to put in the spotlight for the public. It led to several unsavory and false stories to be placed in the forefront of the public’s mind — and generated a lot of scrutiny.

This ties directly into the operations of newspaper publications because, although online materials may be more efficient for readers to skim, the information is not always entirely correct.

This is because the rigorous process of drafting and approving pieces that produce a newspaper does not go into producing articles for online platforms. The process is often write, publish, then edit and/or correct. This is detrimental to the integrity of the story, especially when viewers read it prior to edits and adjustments.

Evidently, there are some major changes coming to the world of journalism and readership. However, it will likely be a long time — at least two to three decades — until a moratorium is officially read on behalf of print journalism.