Work And Play

I came across the question “How does your writing influence your writing?”

What it asks is how one type of writing you do affects other types of writing you do. I work in online customer support, and I believe that’s influenced my prose in the fiction I write. I don’t actually talk to the customers I interact with;I communicate with them through either chat or mail.

On top of that, many of the customers I come across are less than fluent in English (which is my working language). I believe that in some way this has been very good for me as a writer. It has taught me the importance of simplicity and of getting the point across.

Sure, in my fiction I often get carried away and write complicated purple prose for no other reason than that I enjoy it, but for the most part I keep it simple. Simple is good. I don’t want my readers to stumble on the language, but to absorb it through their eyes and let their minds transform the words into images and emotions.

Okay, that does sound a bit pretentious, but I think it’s a goal worth striving for.

I also think that this is something I’ve picked up from my day job. I’ve been at this place for over nine years and I only took up fiction writing just over two years ago. At work, I often have to explain relatively complex concepts to people who aren’t necessarily comfortable readers, and who also aren’t fluent in English. They’re not stupid, it’s really just a matter of language barriers (and sometimes culture, but that’s an entirely different can of worms).

In order for these people to understand, I have to keep my writing simple and flowing. It needs to be both easy to understand and easy to read. If it isn’t, the customer will just stop reading and either send in a new help request (bad), or be unable to use our product (worse). Writing text that is easy to read is an essential work skill.

Sure, the kind of people who read novels don’t generally have the issues with text and language that I mention above, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep it simple. I believe there’s something to be said for just chugging through the pages, without paying any heed to elegant language constructs or stopping to admire alluring alliterations. Sometimes you just want a bit of simple escapism and that’s what I want to provide.

So, yes, to answer the original question: the writing I do at work has helped me understand the value of keeping it simple.

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Work And Play

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