Some things in life are exactly like Marmite.

Guns, yoga, pineapple on pizza – they’re all divisive, and they’re all equally cherished or reviled. But whether you love them or hate them, none of them are as universal as the act of writing.

It’s something we’ve all grown up with. Something we’ve had drilled into us from an early age, and something that most of us practise in some form on a daily basis.

So why does society have such a love-hate relationship with it?

It’s boring. It’s therapeutic. It’s draining. It’s enriching.

It’s a washed-up form of communication that’s being slowly overshadowed by more accessible channels. But it’s also a timeless master medium that plants its roots into every new piece of tech that arrives.

As a copywriter and Marmite-lover, I know exactly where I stand. But as an internet-aged member of modern society who doesn’t want a pineapple pizza, I think I can see where the haters are coming from.

Let’s get into it:

It’s completely unnatural

As a species, we have so many ways to communicate:

We roll our mouths around speedy sounds. We squeeze our faces to convey emotions, and we pose and shift our bodes while we flail our little meathooks into gestures.

There’s something special about face-to-face interaction that makes it effortless. As if we’re hard-wired to understand and appreciate the direct experience – of speech, facial expressions, and body language.

But writing?

It’s something alien and abstract: something disconnected from the animal communication we’ve evolved with.

When you’re writing, there isn’t much to stimulate your senses. No sounds, no facial expressions, and no body movements that have any relation to what’s being said.

It’s just you, on your own, pushing buttons to print silent hieroglyphs for someone to decode later.

It’s not natural. It’s not effortless. It’s weird – and lots of people just aren’t into it.

There are no second chances

We’ve all fudged a sentence on a Zoom call.

We’ve all tripped over our words or slipped into an extended prattle on the phone – and we’ve all got ourselves tied up in a sentence so complex and clumsy that we had to start again for it to make any sense.

But when you’re writing, you only get one shot.

By the time your reader sees your words, there’s no going back. The email is sent, the blog post is published, and the advert is already live.

If your meaning isn’t clear, they’ll be confused. If your wording is complicated, they’ll be turned off. And if you take too long to get to the point, they won’t do you the courtesy of letting you finish.

For some people (like me), that’s a good thing. I don’t have to communicate under the pressure of a live performance, or blurt out a monstrosity that lands me in trouble. I’ve got all the time in the world to plan, build, and revise what I need to say – with the right words in the right order.

For other people, that’s a nightmare. It’s a laborious process of thinking, typing, reading, deleting, checking, revising, adding, polishing, and checking again.

If they’re not used to writing, they’ll end up with one of two things:

  1. A rushed piece of work that’s sloppy and unclear.
  2. Or a whole day wasted on something made with care.

Neither of those are desirable results. And when you compare those two outcomes with the quick back and forth of a phone call or a meeting, it’s no wonder people prefer to avoid writing when they can.

The rewards aren’t sexy

When you’re recording a video for a social media post, it only takes minutes to get something back.

It might be a sloppy take full of errors and hesitations. But you’ve got something immediate that can stimulate your senses – something that’s fun to watch back, and fun to try again.

It’s the same situation for creating a podcast, a video tutorial, an interview, or even just a simple voice message on WhatsApp.

You’ve got immediate audio-visual stimulation. You’re checking your work in the same format that you use to consume your personal entertainment: the same lights, sounds, and moving images that you get with Netflix or YouTube.

If you hate the content of what you just said, you might at least like the lighting. You might like the way your charisma comes across, and you might like the fact that you’re having a good hair day.

All those tiny moving parts – the camera angle, the enthusiasm of your voice, and the natural good looks of your cheeky little face – they’ve all come together to create something engaging.

You can slap a filter on it and send it out to the world, all within minutes of getting started.

But when you’re writing, there’s no such instant gratification.

It can take hours just to finish a first draft. And without the compensation of a toothy smile and a dynamic pose, that rough first draft is completely laid bare.

It’s literally just the words. It’s literally literal. If you want a written message to carry the same effect as a video or a voice, those words need to perfect. And that means another few hours spent polishing and refining them – another few unsexy hours without any exciting stimulation.

It’s harder to be ‘you’

They say it takes two to tango. Two to offend, two to teach, and two to communicate.

And that’s all fine when you’re dancing the tango face-to-face. But with written communication, the link between the sender and receiver is never that direct.

People won’t read the way you write. Or more accurately, people won’t read your work in the same way you read it back to yourself.

They read at different speeds and different rhythms – putting different emphasis and stress on different words and pauses. They’ll skip over the crucial details if they’re buried in a sentence, and they’ll take away a different meaning if you don’t make things painfully obvious.

So when you’re writing, you need an incredible level of precision over the way you present your information.

You need careful punctuation to control the pace and separate your ideas. You need to hit the right beats and carve out the empty spaces, creating a pulse and cadence that won’t get lost in translation. You need to tell your reader exactly how to read your message – with no ambiguity, and no chance of misinterpretation.

You don’t have that problem with a video or a voice call. (Or if you do, it’s much harder to mess it up.)

With a video and a voice, everything you say gets perfectly preserved and transmitted. Your emphasis is their emphasis. Your empty spaces are their empty spaces.

And your winning personality and overwhelming charm?

It’s all right there in pixels and decibels – with no chance of getting lost on the page.

Do what you love – not what you hate

If you’re the kind of person who hates to write, I won’t waste time trying to convince you otherwise.

But I might try to convince you to find someone who loves it.

Someone who writes copy for businesses every day. Someone who’s happy to spend hours perfecting a message.

Someone who – get this – actually chose to make writing their job.

So if you’re looking for content but you don’t want to suffer, let’s start a love-hate relationship:

You can do the hating – and I’ll take care of the rest.

Blog Copywriting, Editing and Proofreading, Website Copywriting

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