The Great Writing Challenge


Despite what anyone under the age of 25 will tell you, writing is still alive and well in the world. Social media, through no fault of its own, has boiled language down to the verbal equivelent to grunts, moans, hand gestures and hyroglyphics. However, there are still more needs for sharpened written skills than people would make you believe. The problem is that people aren’t flexing those muscles. If the average American texts about 94 times a day, and the average teen uses Snapchat 40+ minutes a day, it is easy to see why writing proficiency is on a sharp decline.

So, what if there was an fun and interesting way of getting people to write? The makers of The Most Dangerous Writing App are testing that concept with a videogame-like approach to getting people to write. With a simple screen the “player” must write for 5 minutes straight or the “lose”. It seems too simplistic to be enjoyable, I recognize, but just this simple 5-minute activity can increase higher level thinking, vocabulary, and mindfulness in the participant. Even writing this blog post I have taken about 7 minutes to write two paragraphs. My own cranial cobwebs need dusting in the area of writing.

The Most Dangerous App uses a game format to do something that people normally wouldn’t do—advance an intellectual inefficiency. People do not like to focus on things that they are not good at. They don’t like to be reminded that they can’t do something. Yet, with this app there it is easy to increase your writing fortitude just by playing a few times.

I’ve argued with many people that Snapchat isn’t a social media outlet, but that it is a videogame. The streaks that people have make them want to keep checking back to make sure they don’t “lose” it. This means that most people (especially those under the age of 25) are participating in Snapchat becuase of its “stickyness”. Malcolm Gladwell, in The Tipping Point, writes about the Stickyness Factor:

“The Stickiness Factor is the quality that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to a product, concept, or idea. Stickiness is hard to define, and its presence or absence often depends heavily on context. Often, the way that the Stickiness Factor is generated is unconventional, unexpected, and contrary to received wisdom.”

The makers of The Most Dangerous Writing App have given writing stickyness. They have used a modern context to bring enjoyment to writing. Try it out. See if you can write for 5 minutes straight. You will find that you are increasing your intellect as well as your emotional intelligence.

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