January 11th, 2012 by Bob Bly
It was while working as a technical writer for Westinghouse in 1979 that I first heard the term “word smith” applied to writing.
“He’s a pretty good word smith,” my internal client said, referring to an engineer I was supposed to interview for writing a brochure; the engineer felt a mere writer couldn’t understand the subject and it would be better if he wrote it himself.
Now a relatively new term — content — further degrades writers and the status of writing.
“Writing” sounds like a craft or skill. “Content” sounds like something you buy by the can or by the pound.
I am seeing an ad in a lot of places on the web for “Writer Access,” an organization that promises to help you “get your content written.” They match you with a writer from a pool of thousands, again commoditizing the practice of writing.
The only ways for writers to avoid being a commodity: (1) write a best-seller (2) write in a specific niche in which you are perceived as an expert and (3) write direct response copy where results can be measured.
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