Learning to Write or Writing to Learn?

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

15 November 2018

Once upon a time, I only wrote because a professor instructed me to. I was one of those students able to ride a low-B average with little effort. If I enjoyed the class, I’d easily get an A, but school wasn’t a challenge for me. I looked at each grade or class as a hurdle that I had to jump over in order to finish. School wasn’t about the knowledge and power of learning. It was something I couldn’t wait to complete.

Currently, I work for O’Brien Communications Group, and I do my fair share of proofreading and writing. One of the lessons I’ve learned over the last eight years is that words matter.

Language is powerful, and it has the ability to influence the way people think.

There is a reason why Marketing is a discipline. And there is also a reason that every good marketing team includes at least one writer and one critical thinker. (They can be the same person.) While your message may be simple, there are usually several ways to say the same thing.

Let’s take these two sentences for example:

1. Our community is the best! We’re so blessed to have so many wonderful people who support us. Happy Thanksgiving!


2. We’re humbled to be part of such an amazing community. It’s comforting to know we are supported by so many. We’re thankful for you today and every day.

Before you post your annual Thanksgiving message this year, think about those two sentences. What’s different about them? Does it matter which one you post? If you read them quickly, they seem like they say the same thing. They don’t. There are subtle differences in tone, style, and sincerity. And therein is the lesson.

When I was a student, I missed out on a lot of learning by simply going too fast. My GPA was high, but if you ask me about those classes now – precious little information remains. That’s why I’m thankful that I get to explore writing as an adult. It’s given me the chance to slow down and actually learn. It’s given me a voice I was unaware I had. It’s given me the opportunity to be more than a low-B professional.

I hope to go back to school as an adult, not to finish a degree or get another certification, but just to learn this time.