The Real Stats Behind Illiteracy

When it comes to illiteracy, 757 million people around the world are illiterate.
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When it comes to illiteracy, 757 million people around the world are illiterate.

Credit: Grammarly

Many of my blog readers love to write—and even more love to read.

That makes sense. Even if we aren’t passionate about writing, we all enjoy taking in a good story. Storytelling has been part of the human experience for countless centuries. And many stories we take in are told in the form of words.

But not everyone can enjoy a story that way. In fact, 757 million people around the world cannot read.

That’s a lot of people who can’t read a good story.

In honor of International Literacy Day, Grammarly created this infographic to highlight the statistics of global illiteracy:

Literacy Day Grammarly Infographic

Do you think illiteracy is an issue? Share your insights below.

Blogging: Defining What and Why

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I had a blog back in 2008 when blogs were still fairly new.  It was for my writing capstone class at college and every student was assigned to write blogs analyzing our reading assignments with our class discussions on defining genre in writing.  Many students in the class wrote hesitantly and rather stiffly in their blogs, perhaps longing for the traditional structure of writing a short paper meant only for the professor’s eyes.

But I ran wild with blogging: I scrutinized over every word in the readings, took notes and spoke confidently during class discussions, brainstormed the story arc of my blog entry, tweaked entry passages to make it even cleverer before I hit submit.  My competitive nature turned each week into a challenge to write the most insightful, most creative, wittiest blog.  I wanted to make my readers laugh, to think, to frown, to roll their eyes—and all because of what I wrote.

So why did I stop blogging?

For starters, the class ended.  Then there were part-time jobs and studying abroad and finishing senior year and graduate school applications and graduate school and holidays that required traveling and thesis after thesis after thesis.

In short, I let my life get in the way.

I had always wanted to return to blogging, but I let insecurities hold me back.  Blogs must be complicated to start, too expensive to maintain, too demanding of my time, too miniscule in the big world of blogging to even be read.

Some of my insecurities were backed by facts.  There are currently over 56 million WordPress blogs, and that doesn’t include the millions more blogs hosted by Tumblr, Blogger, TypePad, Posterous, or even blogs that don’t use blog publishing websites.  Companies blog, people blog, brands blog, organizations blog, foundations blog–everyone is blogging!

I didn’t get the confidence to even start up again until I attended the Rochester Writers’ Conference this year at Oakland University.  I sat as a student in one session about blogging and I scribbled down lines of notes about how easy it was to start a blog and how financially pleasing it was to maintain it and the strategies to bring eyes upon my blog.  I couldn’t wait to go home and set up an account.

So why did it take me another month to start?

I didn’t know what to write about.   Blogs aren’t random ramblings but rather thought episodes on a particular expertise or interest.  Blogs aren’t scattered ideas but authoritative accounts on fixing cars or relationship advice or examples of world improvement or even a writer’s way of life.  Blogs are where the writer shines as an expert, and I didn’t want to take my expertise lightly.

I also needed to decide who would be my audience.  Blogs are audience-driven, and readership depends on how well researched, how captivating, how grammatically correct, and how honest the writer writes.  This audience component pushes the writer to catch a new reader’s attention and to hold that attention for weeks, months, years.  Blogs can exist in the vast World Wide Web, but it turns into another dusty book on a library shelf if not read.

So I closed my eyes and imagined my future readers.  I saw someone with overcrowded bookshelves because of an obsession with reading and writing.  I saw someone who just started taking a creative writing class at the community college.  I saw someone who loves to network, who loves to listen, who loves to learn.  I saw someone who has the confidence to be an expert but not knowing where to start.  I saw me.  I saw you.

So, after my four-year hiatus, I decided to blog about my journey in developing a writing career so that, through triumphs and failures, we go through our journeys together.