Style or Substance? How About Both?
“It’s about what you write, not how well you write it.”
Like a dagger to the heart, those words from a new email newsletter client pierced my writer’s soul and made me question the purpose of my very existence. Why am I here if not to take the mundane and spin it into something interesting?
The context of our discussion was that a consultant had tried to sell him on the misguided notion that social media updating is more about style than substance — that a clever phrase or dash of humor could make up for a lack of compelling information.
I think there actually are two separate issues in play here. First, he is absolutely correct that no amount of thesaurus-driven prose will make up for shallow thought. However, there is something to be said for eloquence, brevity and adherence to AP style.
Start with something real to say and then put some thought into the best way to communicate it. Good writing is always more effective than bad — or even average — writing. Good story telling will sell more than bullet points.
So, yes, how well you write something is not the most important thing — but if given the right foundation, it can sure come in handy.