Writing in the digital age: How writing has changed in the 21st century

Do you remember the good old days when writing was a craft in itself? There were no rules, so long as you could engage the reader, provide valuable information and be concise in your language. Now, while all of that is still true today, writing in the digital age has unquestionably changed the industry.

When I was growing up, learning how to write meant putting pen to paper, structuring arguments and making clear statements. No one worried about whether or not the writing was “clickable” or “shareable.” There was no concern over meeting minimum word lengths to make the article viable or get picked up by search engines — hell, search engines weren’t even a thing yet. SEO was non-existent. Stories weren’t framed around focus keywords. You could write however you wanted, whatever fit your style.

But no longer. Today, these are all very real aspects to writing in the digital age. Paragraphs are shorter. If you don’t use enough image or video content the reader won’t be engaged. If the prose is written in long, flowing sentences then they’ll get bored. This is now the world we live in — or, at least, the “norm.”

I don’t want to sound like I’m just knocking blogging — I am a blogger, after all, and I love doing it. For all digitization has done to change writing for the (seemingly) worse, it also comes with immense benefits. It gives everyone a voice. You can connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. The pure reach is far greater than before.

Still, on some days I can’t help but feel the urge to pick up a pen and write the old fashioned way, say what I want to say, the way I want to say it. No rules. The sad irony, I suppose, lies in me typing this blog post instead. Though you’ll notice it’s short, because now I need to get back to my long prose. If you’re a writer, I think you should do the same — that next book isn’t going to write itself!

Published by Ed A. Murray

Ed A. Murray is an author, freelance writer, digital marketer and blogger dedicated to impactful storytelling. He writes about writing, books, marketing and life, and has published three books of fiction.

10 thoughts on “Writing in the digital age: How writing has changed in the 21st century

  1. Hear, hear to everything you write here – except that I’ll never, ever go back to pen and paper. [I would never be able to read it back to myself! 🙂


  2. The picture at the top of the article says it all really. The best of both worlds, surely?

    Maybe that’s what Apple had in mind….

    But your point about the short and snappy flavours nowadays hits the nail on the head. After all, when you do a video, you don’t need to spell!

    Within thirty years we may have lost the ability to write, and communicate only through that medium. What a sad day that would be.


    1. What a sad day indeed. We are well on our way, unfortunately. It seems that most people these days read headlines or tweets and simply make assumptions about the news and that leads to a very dangerous end.


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