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Seven Cs: The Elements of Effective Writing
41 How-To Tips for Creators

V. Current

Writing that is
up-to-date is more compelling and credible.



Readers can tell when a piece is out of touch because it doesn’t reflect their lived experiences, what’s currently going on, their reality.


A good example is the Covid-19 pandemic. For those who remember when the world shut down in 2020, there is a clear demarcation between before and after: not a return to normal, but a new reality within which we all have to live. Writing that doesn’t take this into account can seem clueless and irrelevant.


In contrast, writing that is as up-to-date as possible (given whatever lead time you have) is more compelling and credible. It’s not just keeping up with current events; it’s also reflecting the zeitgeist (Pro Tip 29) and trends of the moment.


How does this apply to writing about the past or future? Each has its own kind of currency in that it should accurately reflect the times in which it is set. For histories, for instance, getting the facts of an era straight is essential. Writing that is anachronistic feels out of touch and inauthentic (Pro Tip 19). Historical facts, too, should be true to their epoch.


In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White warn against trend-tracking:


Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.


I respectfully disagree.


The fifth element of effective writing is that your writing should feel current.


It must be relevant to the consumer, who is paramount (Pro Tip 23). And making a nice living isn’t a bad thing (Pro Tip 10).


Being up-to-date and time-sensitive is more important now than ever. Pieces that are perceived as old news are much less likely to be read and acted upon than ones that are evergreen.

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