Have you thought about your writing skills or left them after school or university?
Did you send an email to a customer or teammate who could not understand the gist, resulting in a loss of lead or delays in the project timeline?
Or wrote a report which required you to explain verbally to everyone who read it?
Or are you delaying your reports and emails because you are unsure of your writing abilities?
Possible because it happens to many people.
Even if you’re not working in a position requiring writing as a primary element of your job, you’re likely to use your writing skills daily to interact with people.
It could be via text messages (via Slack or email, in a quarterly or monthly report, presentation, or other). Indeed, having strong writing skills is among the primary qualities that employers are looking for, regardless of the position they’re looking to fill.
There are many kinds of writing skills, and with practice, you will be able to improve them and then showcase them in your next job hunt.
Why are writing skills important?
If you’re working in a writing-based or writing-heavy job, for instance, marketing or sales, you’re likely conscious of how your writing skills can benefit you every day.
Even if you’re not employed in any of these roles, writing is an essential ability in the workplace, especially in today’s world with a growing number of people working from home. In an increasingly digital world, it’s becoming less social and more written interactions.
Strong writing skills allow you to communicate with other people without arranging meetings or calls. They make sure that readers comprehend the main aspects of what you’re trying to communicate, leave with the message and impression you’d like them to, and often provoke positive action.
The majority of professionals need to write business emails. One could use emails to provide your team with information on the progress of a project, request information from a friend, or follow up on a meeting by providing specific next steps. A well-written pitch to an important client can boost your credibility and assist you in getting a new customer.
You likely use your writing skills outside of email. You may put together presentations with text, or you need to write up a report about the outcomes of something you have done or researched. Maybe you’re planning a vacation and are writing the things you want your coworkers or reports to be aware of or care for when you’re away.
Writing can be something that others can refer to, unlike spoken communication, which could need to be repeated several times. Documentation in writing can be beneficial when you’re trying to establish a standard for how your organization or team tackles regular tasks or in teaching new employees to be able to tackle these duties. Documenting and writing down new procedures will ensure consistency in the future and better quality control even if you’re not able to talk and explain the procedures to every new employee accepting the job.
Illustrations of the Writing Skills
There are many kinds of abilities that create a skilled writer, for example:
Before you even write even a single word, it is essential to study the topic you’re writing about. Finding information that is current and precise is an essential element of writing. This procedure can aid you in determining what information to include.
The type of content you’re writing could first require finding out about your audience. Whether it’s a global market or a specific company, evaluate sources to determine their credibility, strength, and trustworthiness, speak to experts, analyze and review data, and converse with others on your team.
Planning or Outlining
An outline can be described as a streamlined sketch of the elements or subjects of the document you’re working on and how you’ll arrange the information. It will provide you with a plan to follow when you write.
Making and following an outline makes sure you’re including the most important details in the proper sequence and aren’t repetitive or diverging from the direction you want to go. It’s usually easier to seek the input of an outside source on an outline rather than writing an entire report only to discover that it did not include crucial details.
Use outlining abilities to sketch a project outline if you’re delegating or working with other people.
Clarity and Grammar
The grammar rules are the guidelines for the use of language. It’s the basis for everyone to speak similarly and, in turn, that we can understand each other better.
We must follow all the basic rules of grammar. However, unless you’re an editor or writer, knowing the obscure peculiarities of grammar isn’t essential.
The most important thing is understanding how to write clear, concise, and understandable sentences to communicate your thoughts in writing effectively.
Editing and Revising
Editing refers to changing and correcting the content of your own or else’s writing to improve it. Editing or revising can be done by making substantial modifications to the structure, organization, or even the contents of the written piece.
Also, you can edit a piece of writing, looking for grammar or spelling errors or mistakes. In other instances, it could be that you are adjusting paragraphs or sentences to make them flow more smoothly or convey an appropriate tone.
A strong editing skill can be helpful in a range of professional settings, from looking over the report or presentation of colleagues to identifying errors in an email you’re planning to distribute to your entire team.
Although writing isn’t an important aspect of your job and you don’t have to write much outside of your company, you’ll employ it for communication within the workplace. It could be writing an email, messaging someone via Slack or Teams, giving feedback, making a plan, or providing an update on the progress of a project.
Communicating clearly in writing can help your workflow efficiency. It also increases your chances of receiving what you require from others. It will avoid confusion and let your team members feel more informed and involved, ultimately building your relationships with your colleagues.
9 Strategies to Enhance your Writing Skill
Good writing skills will help you stand out and be ahead of the pack. How can you increase your writing abilities? Here are some suggestions:
1. Learn to Improve Your Grammar Skills
If you’re not a writer, editor, or something similar, you won’t need to know who or when to use an em dash and the semicolon (and truthfully, editors may not know all of these things). However, you must be aware of the fundamentals of writing complete sentences instead of fragments or run-ons, utilizing the quotation mark and/or commas within typical situations.
There are plenty of free online resources that you can access to sharpen your grammar and answer questions on your own, like Grammar Girl and numerous dictionaries published on their websites. Also, you can consider paying for courses offered on platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Coursera.
There are plenty of free tests to assess your level of proficiency and pinpoint areas to improve. You can go through various books for reference: the Elements of Style by Strunk and White is a classic but extensively used and, perhaps more importantly, a short overview of the most important grammar rules.
2. Read (and study) the writing You’d like to improve
One of the most effective methods of improving your writing skills is reading plenty. Find out what type of writing appeals to you, and then examine that writing with a keen eye to see how it’s constructed.
Are you using lots of technical words?
Does the tone seem more casual and more formal?
Does the write-up utilize many shorter sentences, mostly longer sentences, or is it a mixture of both?
Any reading can help you understand the many ways the different components of writing can work efficiently. However, it is beneficial to concentrate on the exact kinds of writing you wish to improve.
It’s great to read that Shakespeare is excellent if you love it, but it’s not likely to help improve your email writing.
If you’re looking to step up your marketing content, technical reports, or sales pitches, that’s the kind of writing you should be studying the most.
3. Choose the Best Format for the situation
Let’s say you want to update your boss about your activities over the past week.
What’s the most efficient way to accomplish this?
Do you plan to open a brand new Google document and write an all-in-one report of five pages that includes every aspect?
It’s probably not.
You’ll most likely type up an email with some short sentences or bullets that list the most important aspects in a format that your boss can quickly read.
However, suppose you’re reporting the results of months of study. Your supervisor may need a summary for immediate attention or a colleague who requires to be informed about your procedure.
Suppose you’re sharing the findings with a different department. It may be better to communicate only the most important points or actions in a PowerPoint presentation, with just a few bullet points or a brief overview on every slide.
Choosing the right style for your piece of writing based on your objectives and the intended audience will allow you to have the proper amount of space to communicate the information. You’re required to share exact information to meet your reader’s expectations.
4. Outline Your Idea Before Writing
When you’re writing something long or a significant piece, drafting an outline ahead can help you create an easier-to-finish project and make the process more efficient.
The best method for drafting your outline will be based on your individual preferences and what you’re writing.
In most cases, it’s best to divide the outline into sections (It could be chapters or paragraphs, slides, or something else) and then note the goal of each section. What is its reason, and what solution is this section providing to your readers?
Once you’ve figured out that, you can quickly record what information you need to include in this particular section of your article.
When you’re drafting, ensure that the sequence of your sections is logical. If you’ve planned for a future section to comprehend the message, you can move that section or information to the top of your outline.
If you’ve got a lot of points you’d like to reach but aren’t sure in the order they should be placed or how they connect, an outline could be even more beneficial.
Note down each important element in a simple format to move around — for instance, a bulleted list in Word or Google document, or even individual index cards. Begin by putting similar and related points. Next, you must arrange these groupings so that they flow logically.
If you’re unsure what your primary points are, you can repeat the same thing for all the small pieces of information you’d like to include. You’ll be able to create your key points after figuring out how your information is arranged.
5. Be aware of the audience you are writing for and use the appropriate tone for your writing
To communicate effectively in writing, It is important to know the reader and what kind of language they understand and use.
Be aware of what your language style is. In most professional settings, it’s best to avoid emojis and refrain from using punctuation marks in multiple ways unless the situation requires it. Don’t use all capitals unless, for example, you intend to shout.
Before writing, take note of the knowledge levels of your readers concerning the subject. If they’re aware of the subject, they may not require much detail.
When you’re done with every piece of writing, ensure that you read it, considering the reader’s perspective. Tone can be difficult to convey through the written word, especially when it comes to humor. And you should not convey an attitude you do not intend to convey.
If you’re replying to an email thread, making comments on an ongoing thread, or taking part in a conversation, mimic what the message is saying that preceded your own.
6. Pay attention to the mechanics of your writing
Here are a few guidelines to be aware of to make nearly any piece of writing easier to understand and read:
Avoid using complex words when simple ones will suffice. If it appears as if you’ve used the thesaurus feature each time you write a sentence and it’s likely to irritate your reader or cause them to lose their focus. It will also result in an unorganized tone and have the chance of someone not comprehending the message you’re trying to communicate.
Alternate your sentences. If your sentences are all of the same length or follow the same format, the writing may become difficult to read. The most frequent issue is every sentence that begins with the letter ‘I.’ Imagine: “I want [x]. I’m looking for [yI needs [y]. I’d like to have [z].” It becomes monotonous, and it’s easy for readers to get lost when everything is the same.
Utilize specific words and phrases. When possible, say what you are referring to instead of using vague words such as “things” and phrases such as “and so on.” This method can help make your writing more effective and easy to follow.
Do not repeat your own words. In writing or speaking, it’s normal to repeat the same phrase repeated differently. Repeating yourself can bog down your writing and cause people’s attention to slip.
Eliminate the use of filler words and filtering languages. Words such as “just” and “that” are usually not needed to convey your message and can impede your writing. It is also advisable to review the adjectives and adverbs you are using to determine what a more specific verb or noun is the best choice. Also, filters such as “I believe” or “it appears to” could weaken your message and make you appear less confident. Filtering language is particularly common among women who are taught to soften their views to avoid offending.
Help your reader understand each one of the points. When you go from one subject to the following, do it effortlessly. If you’ve spent the previous paragraph discussing a project you worked on in the last week, then immediately begin to describe the next project without making a transition, the reader could be confused. When you introduce a new topic, ensure that it is clear to the reader why you’re discussing it and how it is connected to the larger subject.
7. Get feedback on your writing
If you’re seeking to enhance your writing skills, seeking feedback from other people about what you’re doing is extremely beneficial. You may not be aware that you’re using the wrong word and that the sentences you write are too long. Someone else might.
It’s also normal for people to repeat similar words and phrases without realizing they are doing it.
You might also believe that your writing is clear and concise; however, a reader may think there’s a piece of crucial information missing. If you’ve received feedback from different people, be aware of the comments or critiques you’ve received more than once and pay attention to that section first.
Ask a colleague, manager, or someone you can trust with the source of information to read the piece you’ve written and ask for suggestions to improve your writing. If you have a person you work with, it may be best to request feedback on your writing regarding something they’re expected to read.
If you’re interested in the kind of writing you’re hoping to develop, you may also be able to join an online writing group or community in which people share their writing and discuss their writing styles.
There are writing workshops available (both online and in-person) at universities and other community programs. They typically cost money but include experienced instructors or facilitators, or you can locate (usually for free) writing groups on the internet. Meetup.com and professional associations are excellent places to begin your research.
8. Proofreading is vital for good writing skills
Whatever you’re writing about, taking a final look to make sure you’ve not made mistakes or typos can help you avoid many hassles over the long haul.
Did you make a mistake or leave your verb in the sentence? Review what you wrote in a loud voice if you can. Sometimes, things appear fine on the screen, but when you attempt to speak them out loud, you notice something isn’t right.
Similarly, it is possible to take a copy of your work and make corrections in pencil. This can help you examine the writing differently, making it easier to identify mistakes. If the piece of writing has greater expectations and the impression it leaves on the reader is important, you should have someone else review it.
9. Utilize Tech Tools to aid in your work, but not as substitutes
Many software and plug-ins claim they can “fix” the way you write, like WritingProAid, Sapling, and Grammarly, and grammar and spelling checkers built into word processors.
These tools can help you to write better. However, they shouldn’t be the sole source of truth. Computer programs can ignore the important context that humans would be able to comprehend. “Spell-check is helpful, but there are numerous correct words that might not be what you expected.
It would help if you used these tools in the way of an exhaustive proofread. As a professional editor, I use these tools to alert me about potential errors, but I make sure to review their suggestions before taking them on and deciding if they’re correct or not.
Also, I look out for mistakes that the tools did not catch. Computer programs could easily overlook homophone mismatches and tense changes between sentences, incorrect word choices, and other errors. Sometimes, you’ll need writing in a way these tools can’t accommodate. For example, if you’re discussing investing topics, the software may mark ticker symbols and financial abbreviations in a way that isn’t correct.
About writing, in Stephen King’s words
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”Stephen King