In his 2010 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Mario Vargas Llosa, spoke lovingly about what reading and literature had given him saying “Reading changed dreams into life and life into dreams”. He goes on to say that without literature, without writing the world would be a darker, more tedious place.
“We would be worse than we are without the good books we have read, more conformist, not as restless, more submissive, and the critical spirit, the engine of progress, would not even exist. Like writing, reading is a protest against the insufficiencies of life.”
You will note that Llosa did not speak about the pleasures of creating and consuming content, or even worse, allude to the excremental pleasures of creating compelling content.
It needs to stop.
No one creates content. I am not creating content right now (no jokes please), I am writing a blog post. People writes articles, essays, books, poems, polemics, manifestos, deputations, theses, songs, raps, tunes, rhymes, papers, tweets, posts, speeches, laments, songs of praise, aphorisms, tenets, and newspapers (yes, even now).
A good piece of writing can make a dominant church split asunder, compel people to riot in the streets, force the police to make arrests, and people to fall in love, hate, tears, and transform their lives.
Good writing can change the word, change minds, and change everything. Good content is something that is used to pack boxes, kind of like those polystyrene balls that come with packages all the way from China.
When you are writing you are trying to change the world, change minds, and change a trajectory. You are not trying to create compelling content and as soon as you say you are you are doomed to create a beige and pale imitation of something great. If people, real people, are not touched, moved, and inspired then they won’t give a shit about your ‘content’ and the world won’t change, minds will be unaffected, and your trajectory will remain the same.
People need to respond emotionally to your writing. It needs to punch them in the guts or the face so they think, fuck, I need to tell everyone about this and I’m gonna tell them now.
I know it’s called content marketing. When has marketing not been about ‘content’. It’s an oxymoron. It should be called creative marketing, read it and weep marketing, read it and shout with rage marketing, read it voraciously, sit quietly for a minute and then laugh uproariously marketing.
If you’re creating or consuming content you’re doing it wrong.
The picture was taken outside the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, a place filled with art, not content.