There are many more people playing baseball in France these days than were 15 years ago, but how good do you think French baseball is? That occurred to me when I saw the headline on a short New York Times piece, “We are all writers now.” Well, maybe not.

The headline implies that writing is getting better, but just because more people are putting words on a screen today doesn’t mean the quality of writing is improving. If you dabble in painting for 30 years without ever receiving adequate instruction and guidance, you can call yourself a veteran artist, but your work will give a different impression.

Yes, it is terrific that blogs, Web sites, social media, and other outlets give people opportunities to feel more relaxed, more at ease, about expressing their ideas. It does help to get the creative juices flowing, and I hope it makes people more excited about writing.  But unless they use the opportunities to practice by thinking about principles and techniques of good writing, then they will continue to write messages and documents that are wordy, unclear, and poorly organized.

American business doesn’t run on “texting.” Business professionals need to learn to carefully and effectively craft messages that demonstrate their knowledge, their ability to communicate complex ideas, and their leadership.

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Ken O’Quinn is a professional writing coach and former Associated Press writer who conducts corporate workshops on business writing, persuasive writing, and corporate communications writing. He is the author of Perfect Phrases for Business Letters (McGraw-Hill), which is available here at

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