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Rocky View Publishing reporter wants you to actually read this

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:53 am

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The column writing process has always been one that Iíve enjoyed, but Iíve been finding that recently itís becoming increasingly difficult to put pen to paper, so to speak.

Thatís not to say that Iíve been experiencing writerís block, as anyone who knows me personally will tell you that Iím rarely at a loss for words and am infrequently without opinion.

The exercise of writing the column itself has always come fairly easy; it generally starts with a brief tussle between my id and superego to determine whether Iím going to vent an instinctive stream of conscious (id) or take a more calculated and critical stance on a particular subject (superego).

Iíve always been a lot more of an id-dominant personality. I act on impulse and donít often think things through until after the fact, so in many cases this is the direction my opinion pieces take. I get a thought in my head and I run with it.

Where Iíve been struggling with the process, however, is that more and more Iíve been asking myself, ďwho cares?Ē

I canít speak for all writers/journalists, but for myself the pride that comes with penning (typing) a well thought out, or well-researched piece of writing, is shortly followed by the nagging thoughts of, ďwill anyone actually read and absorb this?Ē

This is not to say by any means that I write to be validated or that Iím in this industry for the compliments, as few and far between as they may be.

It is nice, however, when someone reads something Iíve written and it actually sticks with them; when someone emails me and says, ďhey I read this article you wrote, it was really informative, thanks for writing that.Ē

In this blindingly fast-paced world of social media in which we live, it seems as though less focus is put on substance, and more on timeliness. Whatís happening right this very second and more importantly, what are people saying about it?

Thereís this ostensibly endless need for those who consume information to be the most in-the-know, by having the most recent information through means of skimming tweets without ever really absorbing anything.

This is part of the reason I donít tweet from a personal account. I do try my best to tweet from my work account, as it is one of the very few ways a weekly publication can stay as current as possible.

But from a personal standpoint? Why would I bother? Iíve seen people with Twitter accounts that have made 20,000 or more tweets, and for what? So that in that small frame in time, what you said was moderately, if at all significant?

And this is where the inner-struggle starts when Iím writing a column and in some instances news articles.

If this piece of writing is more than 140 characters is anyone actually taking it in? If Iím not writing some half-brained opinion about whatever the flavour of the minute is, does anyone listen? Am I just talking to myself?

I was having a chat with a pair of the Cityís media correspondents not long ago after what seemed like the 10th time I had taken in an information session on the now active curbside organics pick up program.

We joked that I had covered it so extensively that I could probably give the presentation myself, and I responded, tongue-somewhat-in-cheek, that I would likely be answering the same questions Iíve already answered in numerous articles.

The point Iím trying to arrive at here is that it gets frustrating putting something that I work hard on down on a page, and having it either skimmed over or just not read at all.

If someone took the time and care to write more than 600 words, itís probably a bit more well thought out and informative than something 140 characters long with a hashtag slapped on to make sure itís relevant and gets noticed.

Trends are temporary, theyíre an endless spiral that lead nowhere. Instead of constantly trying to cling to the next big thing, sometimes we should stop along the way to actually learn something.


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