As integral as technology is to the writing process, it's important to be aware of its common pitfalls and limitations, regardless of what you're writing. Review the list below for five ways technology can hurt your writing, and solutions for how to avoid these pitfalls.
1. Technology Instills Impatience into the Writing Process and Promotes Laziness
Technology allows you to write everything faster and easier. Once the words are on the screen, there is nothing telling you that the piece you're writing is officially "finished." This makes it easier to impatiently skip reviewing the piece so you can share it with your audience quicker. Relying on autocorrect or software that corrects spelling and grammar isn't entirely reliable either and can make you lazy. Software can be helpful but it doesn't edit documents for coherence or accuracy. And it sometimes misplaces words and offers suggestions that don't make sense syntactically.
SOLUTION: Have someone else review your writing to check it for overall coherence, flow, word choice, and accuracy. Having multiple sets of eyes review a document is important to the writing process.
2. Technology Generates Problems with Structural Flow
While you're switching from this tab to that one, and from one device to another, your entire thought process can become disrupted. If you're distracted by technology while you're writing, your document will be less organized and harder for your readers to follow. You're also more likely to make unsupported statements and leave out transitional phrases when switching from one topic to the next if your attention isn't focused on what you're writing.
SOLUTION: Before you begin writing, have all your related research and outline complete. This will prevent you from searching the Internet while you're writing. Put your phone in the other room and close your email inbox too. Even if you're writing an email, draft it in a word processor first.
3. Technology Creates Impersonal Messages
When you have a lot of information you want to share with multiple people at once, it's tempting to draft one email and send it out to everyone on your list simultaneously, because it saves time. Attempting to cater to the interests of hundreds of people at once, however, is not easy if you don't know who cares about what. If you make your messages too generic so that they appeal to a huge audience, they will end up widely unread because they will be too mechanical and impersonal.
SOLUTION: Segment all the contacts on your lists by categories. Assign each contact to the category or categories that fit their interests and previous user history on your website or previous email exchanges. For instance, send customers who click on "new" items emails about new items that are in stock. Send messages about upcoming deals to customers who buy items on sale. And send follow-up information to customers who inquired about a specific service. Ensure your readers receive information that is relevant to them.
4. Technology Encourages Sharing of Embellished Writing
Scientific studies show we can become addicted to having our information "liked" on social media. We get the same satisfaction from seeing someone "like" something we share as we get from eating a piece of chocolate. This addiction can lead some writers to share something simply because it will get more likes, not because it is an authentic message from them. Some writers will add odd or flowery language (or sometimes misleading language altogether) to an article or email just for the sake of getting someone to "like" it or to click on a call-to-action button.
SOLUTION: Ask yourself: "What matters more? Getting likes or writing and sharing something that is accurate and a genuine representation of the message I am trying to convey to my audience?" While you do want to entertain your audience, you do not want to embellish your writing.
5. Technology Can Diminish Your Credibility
Technology allows the lines between formal and informal content to become blurred. Everyone is an "expert" nowadays, and anyone can publish something on the Internet or send an email. If you are in a hurry to write something and share it before fact-checking it or ensuring you are sharing it with the appropriate audience, you can damage your credibility and online reputation.
SOLUTION: No matter how informal your subject matter, properly cite your work and know your intended audience. Always have your work fact-checked and be sure that the sources you are referencing are credible.