A graphic designer I worked with a very long time ago once received my copy and began laying it out into a newsletter. After an interval, she yelled over the cubicle wall: “Dave, the sidebar on page three is three inches short. You need to write some more shit.”
That’s what I think about—still—whenever I hear someone describe writing as “producing content.” I think of it as “writing some more shit.”
Or this new term that I’m seeing writers using to describe what they do: They say they do “content writing.”
That means doing video scripts, blog posts, email newsletters, speeches, social media posts, podcast series, white papers, website copy, landing pages—what have you.
It means you’ll write any old shit that needs to be writ, to fit.
There used to be another word for that sort of writer, but it became impolite to utter, because it described too many writers too harshly. As I described it here once: “A corporate communication hack is someone who with a straight face calls the new corporate podcast ‘slightly irreverent,’ the new employee video ‘kind of fun’ and the CEO’s blog ‘a bit edgy.'”
Not everything we write is art; but writers worthy of the name should always have a communication purpose higher than filling empty spaces with blank words arranged to look look, sound and smell like ideas or feelings.
And at the very least, we ought to know the difference between writing and “content writing.” To paraphrase e.e. cummings (as I often do):
Olaf (upon what were once knees)
does almost ceaselessly repeat
“there is some content I will not eat”