To Be And Not To Be: A Guide To Writing In The 21st Century

It’s no secret that writing well is an increasingly rare skill in this age of cyborgs and communication apps. And yet, the ability to express oneself in a clear, succinct, and entertaining manner is essential for getting ahead in today’s workforce. 

Yes, you can use emojis or context-free GIFs to get your point across. But if you want to show that you’re a higher-level thinker with a nuanced understanding of language and syntax and I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to do just that you’ll need the skills described below. 

Just think: after reading this guide, you’ll be able to write like the Bard himself (I’m referring here not only to William Shakespeare but also to my friend Phil “Bard” Davis).

Linguistics, Style and Writing in the 21st Century – YouTube
1. Embrace the evolving landscape of writing in the digital age.
2. Develop the art of storytelling to engage modern audiences.
3. Adapt your writing style for different digital platforms.
4. Master concise communication without compromising depth.
5. Explore the synergy between written content and visual elements.
6. Leverage 21st century skills like critical thinking and collaboration.
7. Stay updated with current trends to remain relevant as a writer.
8. Balance creativity with clear and effective communication.
9. Learn from contemporary writing strategies for improved impact.
10. Cultivate a versatile approach to writing for diverse audiences.

Write All Day

This is the most important thing to remember writing is a craft that takes time to master. You can’t expect to become an author if you don’t practice every day. 

Even if it’s just for a few minutes, make sure your fingers are moving across the keyboard or penning on paper. The best writers in history have all written everyday because they knew how to write, and so should you!

You’ll be amazed at how quickly your skills improve when you commit yourself fully to this daily task of writing (even if it’s just for 5 minutes). 

If you’re having trouble getting started with this exercise, try starting off with something simple like brainstorming ideas for blog posts or drafting short stories before working on larger projects later down the road.”

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Write Every Day

The most important thing you can do when learning to write is put in the time. I know, it seems obvious, but many people believe that writing is for the chosen few and therefore spend their time reading about writing instead of doing it. 

The thing is: that being able to write well requires practice. If you want to be a great writer (or even just an adequate one), you need hours and hours of experience under your belt.

Writing every day will help develop your voice as a writer because it allows you to see where your strengths lie and how far away from perfection they might be. 

You’ll also get used to sharing ideas with readers in public forums such as journals or blogs, which makes it easy for other people’s opinions on your work (good or bad) not only affect how much effort goes into future pieces but also help build up confidence in what you do know about grammar rules!

Only Write When You’re Inspired

Remember to only write when you’re inspired.

You should not be writing unless you have time and the desire to craft a story. If you feel like writing, then do it! Write for as long as you can or until your inspiration runs out. 

You don’t need a reason to write; after all, there are no rules in this game except that if something comes up while writing that sticks with me long enough to give me an idea of how my story should continue, I’ll follow through with it and see where it leads me next.

Keep A Notebook With You At All Times, And Use It!

A fantastic way to get into the habit of writing is to keep a notebook with you at all times, and use it! 

Your notebook should be your best friend. In it, write down everything that inspires you: ideas for poems, observations about people or places (or yourself!), even just random thoughts that pop into your head. 

The important thing is that anything goes write down whatever comes to mind! This will help get those creative juices flowing so that when inspiration strikes, you’re ready!

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Turn Off Your Phone, Social Media

If you’re serious about getting to work, it’s time to turn off all your distractions. That means the phone, the internet, and anything else that might be distracting you from your chosen task.

Turning off social media is a great way to get into “the zone.” When we’re in this state of mind (also known as flow), we feel more connected with ourselves and our worlds and less distracted by what others are doing on Facebook or Twitter. 

While we may think these platforms help us connect with people, they can make us less connected if used too much. 

This is because using them tends to increase anxiety levels for many users: when you see everyone else living their best lives online but not noticing yours (or if they do notice it and seem unimpressed).

Then this can cause feelings of inferiority which can lead down a path towards self-doubt or even depression! So try turning off those apps for a while until you’ve finished your writing session; then go ahead and hop back on once done!

Write-In The Same Place Every Day, Or Switch Up Places

Whether you choose to write in the same place every day or switch up locations from day to day, make sure that you have a designated writing space. The last thing you want while working on your novel is to have a bunch of distractions interfering with your progress. 

And trust me they will come if you let them. I know this because I used to work at an ungodly cubicle job where I would get distracted by the guy next door who was always blasting his music too loud (and not even good music).

When it comes down to it though, there’s something about having a routine that helps me focus on what needs to get done each day and how much time I can spend doing it as long as there aren’t any distractions along the way.

Use Music To Create Your Writing Atmosphere

Music can be a great tool to help you get into the right frame of mind for writing. For example, if you want to be inspired by the “sound of freedom,” turn on some Bob Dylan. If you want to focus on your work, play some classical music. 

If you need to relax before writing a bit of fiction, listen to soothing jazz or sitar music. You can also use music as background noise while working it may even help drown out distracting sounds around you so that they don’t interfere with your concentration levels!

Music can also inspire writers in many ways: it can give them ideas for new characters or plot twists; 

It may remind them of events in their lives that they could use in their stories, or simply put their minds at ease during stressful times such as deadlines (which hopefully aren’t too common).

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Don’t Use Music To Create Your Writing Atmosphere

The first time I heard that I thought they must have been kidding. But no, apparently it’s true music has a way of distracting writers from their work. 

Some people say that listening to music will help them concentrate more on what they’re doing, but for me, it always did the opposite and made me feel like I needed a break from whatever I was doing at the time. 

So if you find yourself listening to your favorite songs every day while writing (or even just browsing through YouTube), try turning off the sound and see if that helps increase your focus on getting things done!

Write-In Silence

Silence is good for writing. It helps you focus and hear your thoughts and voice, which leads to better writing. If you’re struggling with a scene or character, write for 30 minutes in silence. When you’re done, go back over it and see if anything has changed for the better.

Don’t Write In Silence, Get Tea Or Coffee With Friends

There are a lot of reasons why you should get out of the house, out of your office, and away from your desk to write. First, it’s good for you physically and mentally. You will see things differently and be more relaxed. 

Second, as an author, you need to step outside your head sometimes so that you can create relatable characters who feel real to readers and that means getting to know other people better. 

Finally, if anything interesting happens while at a coffee shop or bar or restaurant then there is always the chance that it might inspire some new writing!

Consume A Lot Of Television Or Movies

While it is true that some of the best books and movies are ever written were created before the 21st century, it is also true that a lot of garbage was produced. 

There are thousands upon thousands of books in your local library, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of movies in your local movie store or streaming service. If you want to learn how to write well, then consume as much good writing as possible.

The following list includes some notable titles and their writers:

  • Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet)
  • Shakespeare (Hamlet)
  • Faulkner (Absalom Absalom!)

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Don’t Consume A Lot Of Television Or Movies

Spending too much time-consuming television and movies can be a distraction. While it’s true that watching TV and movies can be a good way to relax, they can also be an excuse to put off writing your work. 

And while it’s true that watching TV shows or films can sometimes inspire you to write something similar, more often than not it will just give you the feeling that what you’re writing isn’t good enough because it doesn’t have those same aspects (like explosions, compelling characters or original plots) that make the TV show so awesome, to begin with.

Here’s what I recommend: if there is a show or movie that inspires you or makes you want to write something like it, go ahead! 

But try writing first to see what your ideas are before comparing them against someone else’s work and then go watch some TV/movies when inspiration has been exhausted from within yourself. 

You’ll find that far less time was spent being distracted by outside sources than on actually putting pen onto paper (or fingers onto keys).

Rewrite From Memory As Soon As Possible After Experiencing Something That Moves You

Rewrite from memory as soon as possible after experiencing something that moves you.

You can’t duplicate the emotion and energy of the moment, but you can at least try to come close by writing about it right away. If your story is about an experience you had with someone else, talk or write about it with that person before trying to put it down on paper. 

You’ll get a better sense of what was going through both of your minds during the experience, which will help create a more realistic dialogue between characters in your story (and save you from having to invent what they were thinking).

Remember, though: don’t write anything down until you’ve had time to mull over what happened and decide how much detail should be included in your account of events!

Always Carry A Camera And Take Photographs Of Everything That Inspires You

One of the most important things you can do as a writer is to take photographs.

It’s also one of the easiest ways to make your writing more interesting, and it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. 

If you have a smartphone, use it! You can even just take pictures with your phone or tablet if that’s all you have available, but I recommend using a dedicated camera a point-and-shoot will do fine. 

The key here is to document everything that inspires you: places where you live or visit often; friends and family members; what inspires your writing (for example, nature); books that inspire your work… whatever speaks to you about who is as an artist and storyteller. 

Be sure not only to take photos of objects but also write down notes about them what was going through your head when taking this picture? How does this object relate to what we were talking about above?

Only Write From Personal Experience

This is a hard rule for many people and one that can be difficult to follow. We often think of ourselves as writers when we have no idea what writing truly is. 

For example, many people believe they’re writers because they’ve taken a creative writing class at their local community college or university. But this isn’t writing; it’s only research and practice leading up to actual writing.

When I say “write,” I mean something very specific: putting pen (or finger) to paper or keystroke-to-keystroke on the keyboard to produce something original something that has never been written before by anyone else on earth at any point in history and then reading it aloud so that other people will listen (or not). 

Writing is an art form unlike any other: it requires us as authors to create entirely new worlds inside our minds using nothing but our imaginations and words themselves! It takes discipline, focus, and courage from both author (the creator) and reader (the consumer).

It can be difficult for some people who want nothing more than for their ideas about themselves inside their heads to be heard by others through means other than talking out loud with their friends all day long…

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Don’t Use Too Many Personal Details

Avoiding too many personal details is important for a couple of reasons. First, it’s difficult to write about yourself, especially if you’re not used to doing so. 

Even if you have a lot of experience with writing about yourself in other contexts (e.g., blogging), tackling the subject matter head-on can still be challenging. 

Second, even if you do manage to write about yourself in an engaging way without being boring or repetitive (two major pitfalls), your audience may just not care and that would be unfortunate! 

Again: don’t worry too much about this particular piece of advice; there are plenty more where it came from!


At the end of the day, as we’ve mentioned throughout this post, it’s important to remember that writing is not just a set of rules or guidelines. No matter what you write and why you write it, your words should be a reflection of who you are.

That’s why we purposefully avoided laying out our own “rules for writing in the 21st century.” There are so many different kinds of writers out there scientists and novelists, corporate executives and poets whose needs cannot all be reduced to a single list

Further Reading

Don’t Press Send: New Rules for Good Writing Short Description: Explore new rules and insights for effective writing in the modern age, as discussed in this thought-provoking article.

Comprehensive Guide to 21st Century Skills Short Description: Delve into a comprehensive guide that outlines essential skills required for success in the 21st century, including communication and writing.

Writing in the 21st Century: A Conversation with Steven Pinker Short Description: Engage in a captivating conversation with Steven Pinker as he shares his insights on writing and communication in the context of the 21st century.


What are some key elements of effective writing in the 21st century?

Effective writing in the 21st century involves clarity, conciseness, and the ability to engage diverse audiences through digital platforms.

How can I enhance my writing skills for modern communication?

To enhance your writing skills, focus on adapting your style to digital mediums, mastering concise messaging, and honing your ability to convey complex ideas succinctly.

Are there resources available to help improve my writing in the digital age?

Yes, you can explore articles like “Don’t Press Send: New Rules for Good Writing” for insights into contemporary writing techniques and strategies.

What are 21st century skills, and why are they important?

21st century skills encompass a range of abilities needed for success in the modern world, including critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

How can I stay relevant as a writer in the rapidly changing landscape?

Stay updated with current trends, experiment with various writing styles, and continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and communication platforms.