Everyone can write and yet but there are very few writers around. Many people can write funny letters, fluent emails and good reports but when it comes to writing articles most people can’t deliver. This is not to say that many people can’t write well – it’s just that the process of writing with confidence is much harder to achieve than you think, and few people have learned the basic rules of writing an article (something that I would like to explain here soon).
Submitting an article to a newspaper or blog can be intimidating, and the word “submit” conjures up biblical images of slaves surrendering in to the Pharaoh. When writing, our tendency is to procrastinate and then say too much. Confidence tends to evaporate (“who’s interested in what I have to say?”) and the result is often wooden, over technical or unreadable. And even if you do send something in the chances are it will be ignored or rejected. Newspapers and big blogs get hundreds of articles, letters and press releases every day so just getting their attention is hard.
What frustrates me about this is the amount of great writers there are out there — people who are interesting, witty and wise — who never get published. And a lot of those who do get published, especially in the media, are not worth reading. The only thing that sustains many of them is over confidence and arrogance.
The good writers among us are kept out of the golden garden of publication by a a lack of confidence on their part and a lack of interest among publishers to look for new writers who aren’t already established, or who don’t “know the ropes”.
If I was a publisher or newspaper editor I would be constantly looking for ordinary people who wrote witty emails, explain the rules (which are easy) and get them writing. I would run public seminars, explain the rules online and be encouraging people constantly — and I would make my editors edit people who perhaps can’t spell or are dyslexic (one of the funniest writers I know is a friend who sends me hilarious but totally ungrammatical emails; with a bit of editing his stuff could be a sensation).
But publishing is a closed shop to those who don’t understand how the system works — and remarkably open to those who do. It’s a hassle to deal with people who don’t know the system and dealing with people who can’t spell is time consuming and therefore inefficient. But a more open approach could reveal some stunning new writing. Someone should do it.