Turning Off The Lights

A Soft Resistance to Complicating the Process

In 2013, Microsoft released a new iteration of Word folded into their ubiquitous Office suite. Amazingly, it came with the option to pay a recurrent subscription fee for a premium license.

Even five years on, the notion of paying a subscription fee for something you’d find floating somewhere in pre-installed bloatware anyway was a shaky proposition. That’s not to mention the free version was relatively feature complete for someone not interested in much more than simple formatting or editing functionality.

If you bought a laptop with Office pre-loaded around that time, you were probably spoiled with a generous free trial from Microsoft, but you’d eventually get a prompt to re-up for continued service.

And service really is the operative word here.

At a certain point the entire business realized that as for selling software outright,
there just isn’t cash in it like there ought to be. We’re now buying services in lieu of
programs, games, or utilities because the real money is in the customer captured.

That is, the sustainer. In the subscriber.

The consumer should be a dairy cow eager to be milked, not some one and done steer ready for slaughter.

Okay, that’s a bit much, but the point is that regular (and palatably inexpensive) purchases became standard. Take a look at Apple’s highest grossing apps list. How many offer in-app or incremental purchases?

This is really all to say I can’t call myself a fan of this business model, and I know I’m not alone because the term “microtransactions” by itself is enough to raise a certain type of person’s blood pressure, but I’m burying the lede here.

What I want to address isn’t just the incremental payment model, but the resulting feature creep of software. Why do we need so many versions of Microsoft Word if not to justify the narrative that it’s not a page you put words on, it’s a whole ecosystem?

You should be signing up for another year of service, looking at banner ads next to your unfinished novel (really coming together, by the way), and boning up
on Word’s upcoming Chinese social media integration.

Thing is, this user experience is fundamentally antithetical to creative work.

Luckily, there are alternatives.

All kinds: stone tabla with stylus, dictating to a manservant, screaming your copy directly to readers, pen and paper.

Now, if you’re like me you can’t afford yet another manservant. I also like typing on computers, and the way they can save my writing as document files. So really, none of those quite get the job done.

What I do instead is use an ancient (and static) program called Darkroom, a minimalist word processor for Windows adapted from the yet more ancient Writerroom for Mac. Darkroom has features like allowing line breaks, 48 options for text color, and saving in .txt format.

It has few other features, and it’s perfect.

Darkroom Screenshot
Gaze not too long upon its glory, for neon green settings in full screen mode disturb the weak of heart and sensitive of eyes.

Well, almost perfect. Like I said, it has no other export options besides .txt, doesn’t have shortcuts for bold and italicize, and I have not been able to discern what the middle two buttons in that upper right column actually do (seriously, let me know if you find out).

Also, if you rely heavily on spellcheck, well, this probably isn’t for you, albeit if you’re like me you find autocorrect more frustrating than helpful and that’s mercifully absent as well.

In any case, I’d highly recommend checking out minimal software like Darkroom. I saw a noticeable uptick in productivity when I started using it. It feels good to write outside the visual context of document creation for once.

There’s nothing but the words when you’re finally writing “writing” rather than a Word or Google doc.

Advertisements

Professional Writing in Small Businesses

Camrie Latham

opensign

When telling people that you study Professional Writing, the most common reaction is confusion. Few people actually understand what it is, and even less know how to make it a
career. Many people fail to realize that Professional Writing studies are applicable to any career field.

One such field is small business ownership. Although most degrees can aid one in owning a small business, professional writers have a special skill set that gives them an advantage. Professional Writing classes prepare students to, as the name states, write professionally. So, these students are trained in both technical and corporate communication.

Presence

Businesses must have an enjoyable or respectable presence to attract customers and build a loyal following. Being able to create attractive flyers, an entertaining website, or even compose a relatable social media post can improve the image of the company and influence potential customers. Some Professional Writing courses address these subjects directly, teaching how to prioritize and influence the audience through writing.

Informing the Customer

Additionally, the customers should be kept in-the-know, so to speak, with what is happening with the company. The ability to create and maintain blogs, social media accounts, or digital newsletters goes a long way in this area. Providing information directly to consumers allows for a better connection between businesses and clients and prevents confusion.

Maintenance and Growth

Lastly, businesses use professional writing to maintain and grow their company. Creating memos, letters, and reports helps to maintain order within the business, while grant writing and online fundraising involve writing that helps the company grow. Learning to appeal to an audience is, again, crucial to be successful at either of these, and Professional Writing courses emphasize this.

To successfully run a cafe or shop, professional communication is vital. The company must have a likable public presence, customers need to be kept up-to date, and the business must be able to communicate to both maintain itself internally and grow externally. Courses offered at UAB such as Developing Digital Documents, Business Writing, Digital Publishing, and Visual Rhetoric can provide students with
a deeper understanding of what it means to communicate effectively and reach these goals.

These are only a few examples of how Professional Writing can apply to running a small business; the fundamentals of Professional Writing play a big role in a successful small start-up.

 

What About Marketing? Featuring an Interview with Alexis Brost

Bailey McKay

I frequently get asked what I plan on doing with an English degree. Or what can I do with Professional Writing? When I answer that I want to work in the marketing field, more questions seem to arise. Many people do not see the connection between marketing and professional writing. However, English majors have a huge skill set to bring into marketing.

bailey_mckay_image

Meet Alexis

To explore this topic even more, I interviewed Alexis Brost, the Marketing and Member Relations Coordinator at The Club Inc .Her duties include The Club’s quarterly newsletter, (concept, design, writing, and photographs) communicating with outside media, and sending all emails to the members. Alexis graduated from Auburn with a Bachelors in English with a concentration in Literature. She has previously worked on the marketing and social media team for Books-A-Million.

A Piece of Advice

Alexis says her best piece of advice for future English graduates is, “Take a chance on ANY job that accepts a liberal arts degree. In a world that is changing in technology, people want instant and correct communication. English majors are highly attractive candidates for any career.”

What Skills Can Professional Writers Bring to Marketing?

Professional writers bring forth an unique skill set. Not only can they write and edit proficiently, but also they can eloquently express themselves. PW have the ability to be creative and think outside of the box. PW have a diverse knowledge in reading, writing, rhetoric, and many other areas. Lastly, PW can communicate effectively, making them a mediator between consumers and products.

According to Alexis the majority of her English classes have come in handy for her career, but she says that her past Linguistic classes have helped her the most. In Alexis’s current job she has to use HTML coding and programs such as TextEdit, so she emphasized how important her computer classes were as well.(Shout out to Dr. Bacha and Dr. Basilico)

What’s the Takeaway?

I feel like there is a stigma when it comes to being an English major. But, we have so many qualities to offer, and our potential is limitless. When it comes to your career, be bold and take chances. Somethings that don’t seem like they fit, like Professional Writing and Marketing, may just be what you’re looking for. HireABlazer is a good place to start looking for potential jobs, internships, or job shadowing opportunities.