Have you ever sent an email that no one understood and that ultimately set back work on the entire project? Or did you write a report that you subsequently had to explain to everyone because they didn’t understand it after reading it?
Even if your day-to-day work doesn’t require excellent knowledge of writing skills, you’re probably communicating daily with your colleagues, boss, clients, or business associates via email, Slack, sending a monthly or quarterly report, or otherwise. Strong writing skills are one of the main features for doing all kinds of jobs, regardless of the field of work.
There are several different types of writing skills, and with regular practice you can further improve your skills and show them the next time you write an e-mail, report, make a presentation, write an article or look for a job.
WHY ARE WRITING SKILLS IMPORTANT?
If your job requires excellent writing skills, such as working in marketing, you are probably already aware that having good writing skills helps you daily. But even if you are not directly involved in jobs that require a good knowledge of writing, it is an essential skill in every workplace. And it is especially pronounced today when more and more people are working remotely.
The world, and thus the work environment, are increasingly focused on the virtual way of communication, and less face to face. And virtual communication requires more interaction in writing.
Great writing skills can help you communicate with others without having to schedule appointments, videos or phone calls. They provide those who read your content with an easier understanding of the key points, meaning what you want to communicate, the ideas you want to convey to them and the impression you want to achieve. Ultimately, you want them to take the action you hope for when your message reaches them.
Most business professionals use email or LinkedIn daily to reach potential employees and clients. And a well-written message will increase your credibility and help you succeed in your plan and the goal you want to achieve.
But in addition to business social media and e-mail, you probably use your writing skills in some other areas as well. For example, to compose a presentation that includes more text or to prepare a report on the results of something you had to research and prepare on your own. Also, the written content is of great importance to your colleagues in case you are going on vacation. A well-prepared report is a sign that you have mastered the writing skills and that your colleagues will do a good job while you are out of the office.
Writing is a way of communication that others can invoke at any time, as it leaves a mark. On the other hand, the verbal mode of communication may need to be repeated and requires that all participants be present at the same time.
Written communication is of great importance when trying to standardize the way your company or team handles recurring tasks or training new associates to take on specific tasks. Clearly and correctly writing and documenting content can improve the quality of work in the future, even if you are not currently available for a live meeting and explaining the work process to any person taking on a new job.
WHAT IT TAKES TO DEVELOP GOOD WRITING SKILLS
Several types of skills can be used to combine potentially good writing skills with a good writer. Below we bring you what they are.
Before you write a single word, it is important to research well the topic you are writing about. Collecting up-to-date and accurate data is a key part of writing, and the aforementioned process can help you create the skeleton of the text itself. Which content will you include and which will you exclude?
Depending on what you are writing (report, email, blog, presentation…) research may include learning about your target customer, market or individual company. This should include assessing data sources, talking to experts, reviewing and analyzing data, and talking to other members of your team.
The next step is to create a short sketch or frame of the document you are working on, what it will cover, and how exactly you plan to structure the information. What will be your starting point and signpost to follow as you write?
A good sketch ensures that you later include all important information in the text in the correct order. It is also important that you do not repeat the information and that you do not stray too far from the starting point.
3. Grammar and Clarity
Grammar includes a set of specific rules governing the use of the language in which you write. It leads everyone to communicate in a similar way and as a result to understand each other better.
There are many rules of grammar in any language, and you should definitely know the basic ones. In case you are not engaged in writing, editing or marketing, it is not necessary to know and understand all the rules of the grammar.
But in any case, it is necessary to know how to construct a clear, easy-to-read and understandable sentence so that you can communicate well in writing.
4. Auditing and Editing
Editing is the process of correcting and changing one’s own or someone else’s work to make it sound better in the end. You can revise or edit it by making significant changes to the structure or content of the work, or proofreading by checking spelling or grammatical errors in the text.
In other cases, you may need to adjust the sentences to make them sound better – shortening, omitting individual words, or reducing sentences in individual sections.
Good editorial skills can be useful in a wide range of professional situations – from reviewing reports or presentations of your colleagues to spotting errors in e-mails that should be sent to all employees in the company.
5. Communication Skills
Even if writing is not a fundamental part of your job, you will probably use it to communicate in the workplace. This may mean that you will need to compose an email, send a message, give feedback, create a meeting agenda, or update work on projects.
The ability to communicate clearly through writing will help your work be better and better, increase your chances of getting what you want and need, prevent misunderstandings and allow colleagues to feel informed and involved. And all this will ultimately strengthen your professional relationships with each other.
FIFTEEN WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING SKILLS
Good writing can help you stand out and progress. So how do you improve your writing skills? Here are some key tips.
1. Refresh Your Grammar Skills
If you’re hesitant about grammar, don’t worry. You don’t need to know it to an advanced level if you’re not in the position of editor, proofreader or journalist, but you should still know its basics. How to write complex sentences, where to put commas, quotation marks and the like.
Many tools on the Internet can help you test your grammar and spelling skills, and you can easily find a platform that suits your needs. Most of these tools help you find out in just a few seconds where the errors in your text are and how to correct them.
2. Study The Type Of Writing You Want To Improve
One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read. During and after reading, take a good look at the text, what the writer meant by it, and how the text itself is composed. Do they use a lot of professional words, is the tone in which they address readers serious or casual, and do they use short or long sentences. Or a combination of both.
Reading any genre can help you understand all the different ways different types of writing can be combined. It can also be useful if you want to focus on writing the same types of texts and how to improve them.
Reading Shakespeare is great if you truly enjoy it, but realistically, it’s unlikely that reading this or that genre will improve your email writing skills. If you want to improve your report writing techniques, sales quotes, or marketing text, you should also study these types of writing.
3. Choose The Right Format
Do you need to inform your boss quickly and in just a few sentences about what you did last week? What is the best way to do that? Would you like to open a Google document and write a five-page report with every detail? Probably not.
You will most likely write a short email with a few short paragraphs and points that will hit key points that your boss can read quickly.
On the other hand, a detailed five-page report with every detail that happened during weeks of research could help your supervisor or teammates, who should know everything about the work process.
But if you’re going to share that same data with colleagues from another department, it might make more sense to pass on only key parts. A good choice of format, in this case, is a PowerPoint presentation in which you can include several points with a summary on each slide.
4. Separate The Text Into Paragraphs
If you are writing a longer text of great importance, it would be good to divide it into paragraphs and thus give it some meaning. The sections will make the text legible. Try to answer the question of what the purpose of each passage is and why it should be important to the reader. Once you come to that knowledge, you will easily determine which information goes into which section.
Always check that the order of the sections makes sense and is up to date. In case the text is not well arranged, now is the right time to do so. Put more important information at the beginning of the text, and keep in mind that the text has a certain conclusion.
If it makes sense, place the enumerations under dots or numbers to make the text seem clearer and easier to read.
5. Be Aware Of The Audience, Adjust The Tone Of The Writing
To communicate well in writing, it is important to know who will read the text and in what tone it is best to write it. Consider whether you should write in a formal language or a more relaxed way of writing would be more appropriate.
In most business communications, you should skip the use of emojis and avoid using multiple punctuation marks (unless the situation really requires it). Do not use three or four question marks or exclamation points and do not write in capital letters.
Before you write a text, be aware of the real knowledge of those who will read it. If you are addressing other members of your team, you can use the business jargon provided for your area of work and skip the introduction. But if you have decided to write a blog article intended for your customers, it is important to explain things more thoroughly and to choose more appropriate and simple words that are understandable to everyone.
Before you finish any type of text, take your time and read it again. In doing so, try to put yourself in the position of those who will read the text. Keep in mind that someone else might understand your text differently. It’s hard to convey a tone across the text, and you don’t want to be misunderstood and convey the wrong attitude that you don’t really want.
6. Pay Attention To The Writing Technique
Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when writing and that will make it easier for you to read and understand almost anything you write.
Always give preference to simple words that everyone understands. Otherwise, you run the risk of the reader losing concentration and conveying a lesson you didn’t really want to convey.
Change the sentences. If all your sentences are the same length or the same structure, your writing could be uniform and boring. The reader will soon lose concentration and focus. Use different words and expressions and whenever possible state in more detail what you meant.
Don’t repeat. When you write and speak, you will very easily repeat what you wanted in a slightly different way. But repetition can badly affect the reader and distract their attention.
Don’t use unnecessary words. While it is sometimes good to make the text more dynamic and connected by using certain adjectives if you do too often the text might seem less professional. Also, avoid words like “I think” or “it seems to me” because imposing your opinion could weaken the lesson that the text should bring, and which the reader should conclude for themselves.
Guide the reader through each passage in the text. As you move from one topic to another, you do so smoothly and seamlessly. The whole text should be well connected. If you wrote in the last paragraph about how you finished this week’s project and then immediately move on to writing an upcoming project, this could confuse your reader. Make sure that every point you make is clear to the reader, and connect each of them with the topic of the text.
7. Ask For Feedback
If you want to improve your writing skills, an opinion from a reader could be of great help to you. You may not realize that your sentences are too long or that you are constantly making the same grammatical mistakes. But someone else might notice.
Also, it is not uncommon to often use the same words and phrases without even being aware of it. You may think your writing is clear to everyone, but the reader may not feel that way. You may be missing keywords and information that will link the text.
If you have requested feedback from multiple parties, pay attention to the same comments or criticisms from multiple different people and focus on that area first. Ask a colleague or someone you trust to read what you have written and give you advice on what you could change.
No matter what you write, never skip the last step – make sure you don’t have typos or mistakes. Did you skip a word somewhere or use a verb in the wrong form?
If possible, read everything you have written aloud. Namely, sometimes the text will seem fine to you when you read it to yourself, but when you say each sentence aloud, you will realize that you could change and improve some things. It is often enough to look at your writing differently and find mistakes more easily.
9. Use Writing Tools Solely As A Tool
The Internet today offers a handful of tools that can make your writing easier and fix it. Some of them are the previously mentioned tools which can check spelling and grammar relatively well. But while such tools can make writing much easier, they shouldn’t be used as something you should rely on entirely.
Always rely primarily on your knowledge, and take the proposal with a grain of salt. Consider how good a particular word is for your context and don’t blindly follow the rules imposed by the program. Consider whether the words will be clear to the reader and whether the context will be good. Also, there is always the possibility that some tool errors will not be found. Therefore, never skip a good text check.
10. Find Your Own Unique Style
The biggest question: If we all listen to the same experts and follow the same writing tips, how can someone stand out from the crowd?
The trap that many writers (especially beginners) fall into is that they believe that if they imitate a popular blogger or a colleague’s way of writing their writing will be successful as well. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but it is a loss of suggestion. Even if you succeed, you will not be different from all other parrots. There is only you. You have a unique DNA. Your hopes, thoughts and dreams are unique. So, experiment, write and find your own unique style. Want to stand out? Develop your writing style.
11. Start A Blog / Journal
Good writers write. A Lot. If you want to be a better free thrower, then you’re going to have to stand in line and put the ball back in, right? Yes. You are.
If you want to be a better writer, then you have to do the same thing. Start a blog. Advertise it on Facebook and Twitter if you’re interested in feedback. Run the blog and wait for comments. Report on things that are happening in your life / around school/home. Try to solve everyday problems with quick fixes in one paragraph. Get started on some truly unique calls for creative writing. Practice. You will get better.
12. Use Training Courses And Workshops
Further training and workshops for writers are also a great way to continue working on your ideas and get new impulses. Here you can learn new techniques or, for example, the correct structure of a novel. In addition, such courses offer tips for finding a publisher, making important contacts or learning more about self-publishing.
The exchange with other authors is always good and very important when writing a book. You can motivate each other, support each other and give specific tips. This will give you the ability to take criticism, which you absolutely need as a writer. So use workshops not only to practice writing but also to be able to deal with criticism.
In advanced training courses, you work specifically on your text and present it to the group. The other participants and course instructors can then give you feedback on your texts. You should not take this negatively, but always see it as an incentive to work on yourself as a writer. This is the only way your texts will get better. So talent is one thing, but continuous work on oneself is just as essential.
13. Persistence In Writing
One of the most important insights that you can read in many guides:
- Talent helps immensely. But talent is not everything. And you don’t have to be a genius – average talent is enough.
- It goes faster with an education. You can also reach your goal as an autodidact, but it usually takes longer.
- You need perseverance and patience – especially with yourself.
Most people fail at the third point. Not because they are not willing to put in the time. But because they expect too much of themselves too quickly. Some firmly believe that their first book will become a bestseller. If they don’t, they’re disappointed. Of course, there are exceptional talents, but it usually takes a little time to gradually improve.
Here, too, the comparison with the music helps. It’s not enough to learn to play an instrument. To be really good, you need a lot of practice. After a year of piano lessons, you might be able to play the Moonlight Sonata flawlessly. But to play the Moonlight Sonata well enough to give a concert, it takes more than flawless rendition. It takes a lot of practice to be able to interpret the piece of music individually.
It’s the same with writing. Even if you have the knowledge to write a good book, it still takes a while before you can use that knowledge to create anything really good. How to use the craft to create your very own individual story.
And for that, you have to be patient with yourself. You have to accept that it takes a bit of practice. That you don’t immediately produce a masterpiece with the first attempts at writing. That you have to keep at it in order to gradually get better. It takes a certain amount of perseverance to become an author.
14. Write Down Ideas
As a writer, you should never walk around without a small notebook and pen. Writing down ideas for articles, stories, or characters will inspire you to start writing right away. You never know when a great idea will pop into your head.
Writing down ideas improves your creativity and your results. If you don’t write them down, you will find it difficult to write. As the saying goes, what you don’t use, you lose. All you need is one or two great ideas to change your life.
15. Avoid Distractions
Distractions are the biggest killer of productivity and performance. You can’t write while watching TV or chatting with your friends. To write quickly and effectively, you need to find a quiet environment that is free of distractions.
If you can’t change your surroundings, you should turn off distractions. That means turning off the TV, putting away your phone, turning off notifications on your computer, and letting your loved ones know about your plans in advance so you won’t be interrupted. Once you focus on writing, you will be amazed at your results.
To save time and get good results, you need to find a specific time of the day when you can write without distractions. And make it a routine. For most people, the ideal time is in the morning, when their relatives and neighbours are usually still asleep. Others prefer to write at night.
Whatever you find appealing, make it a daily chore. Writing thirty minutes to an hour a day is enough to keep you motivated. If you’re going to write for a living, you’ll need to write a few extra hours every day. The more you write, the easier it becomes.
So, no matter what industry you are in, work on your writing skills. Based on them, colleagues, boss and co-workers will take you more seriously, give the impression of expertise as required by your field of work and, most importantly, you will know how to find the best way to convey information to your target group.