Old School Techniques in a 2.0 Forum
Driving home from class tonight, a conversation between Dick Gordon, host of American Public Media’s , The Story, and Elizabeth Samet, a literature professor from West Point, articulates a tension in the craft of writing that seems inherent in the quickly moving world of social media: immediacy versus reflection.
Their discussion is on the writing that comes out of war, and whether or not the passing of time creates better writing. Samet talks about her introduction of war poetry from soldier/writers of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts into her classroom. Her struggle is to determine which pieces have true literary worth, and which are engaging because they capture what is happening right now. Authors may feel a pressure to publish their work in order to gain immediacy, but in the rush to publish, quality may be lost.
This leads me to wonder two things: how much time is needed for considered reflection, and how much reflection is needed for good writing?
Clay Shirkey, in his TED talk, discusses the rapidly moving world of social media. He argues that media communication is now the creation of environments that support group exchange.
These environments often seem to appear out of nowhere, and disappear just as quickly. A topic that trends one day can be obsolete the next. In order to have staying power in this new world of communication, a blogger must work quickly because influence and readership goes to those who keep up. Falling into the habit of pounding out quick writing in order to meet the pressure of immediacy can happen .
In his blog on writing, Darren Rowse argues against that habit. He reminds us that a good blog post, “It’s all about craft.” Reading his post will give you a list of writing techniques that will have high school English teachers nodding their heads in appreciation and agreement. Give a reader substance, and the reader will return.
No matter how quickly events progress in the world of social media, when it comes to blogging (and all other writing), thoughtfulness and analysis matters.
To listen to Elizabeth Samet read a powerful poem on war written by another instructor at West Point, click here. Her interview comes in the second half of the program.
Click here to link to a piece on modern war poetry put together by The Telegraph.