Why Writing Skills Are Important | How to Improve Your Writing Skills
Have you ever sent an email that no one seemed to understand, and it ended up derailing an entire project’s timeline? Or perhaps you’ve written a report that you’ve had to explain verbally to everyone after they’ve read it?
Even if you don’t work in a position where writing is a requirement, you probably use your writing skills on a daily basis to communicate with others via text (whether via email or Slack, in a monthly or quarterly report, in the form of a project update, or otherwise). Indeed, regardless of the position being filled, strong written communication skills are one of the most important qualities employers seek.
There are several types of writing skills, and with practice, you can improve them and demonstrate them in your next job search.
Why Are Writing Skills Important?
You can communicate with others without having to schedule a meeting or a phone call if you have good writing skills. They make sure readers get the main points of what you’re trying to say, have the ideas and impressions you want them to have, and, in many cases, take action to do what you want them to do.
“Most professionals have to craft business emails,” says Tara Good fellow, owner of Athena Consultants and a Muse career coach. Emails can be used to keep your team up to date on a project, request information from a colleague, or provide clear follow-up on a meeting. And, in some cases, an email is the first impression you make on a new person. “A well-written sales pitch to a critical client will increase your credibility and help you land the new client,” Smith says if you’re an account executive reaching out to a prospect via email or LinkedIn.
Outside of email, you most likely use your writing skills. Perhaps you need to create text-based presentations or write a report on the results of something you did or researched. Perhaps you’re planning a vacation and are writing down what you want your teammates or reports to know or take care of while you’re away.
In contrast to verbal communication, which may need to be repeated and requires both parties to be available at the same time, writing is something that others can refer to at any time. When you’re trying to standardize how your team or company handles recurring tasks or training new coworkers to take on these responsibilities, written records can be especially useful. “Even if you’re not available to meet with and explain the processes to each new person taking them on,” Smith says, “clearly writing and documenting new procedures can allow for future consistency and improved quality control.”
Examples of Writing Skills
There are a variety of skills that come together to make someone a good writer, including:
Before you write a single word, make sure you’ve done your homework on the subject. The process of gathering up-to-date and accurate information is an important part of writing, and it can help you figure out what content to include. Research may entail learning about your target customer—whether it’s an entire target market or a single company—evaluating sources for strength and credibility, speaking with experts, reviewing and analysing data, or speaking with other members of your team, depending on what you’re writing.
Planning and/or Outlining
An outline is a simplified sketch of what points or topics the document you’re working on will cover, as well as how you plan to organise the information, that can serve as a guide as you write. Making and sticking to an outline ensures that you’re including all of the important details in the correct order and that you’re not repeating yourself or straying too far from your point. It’s often easier to get feedback on an outline than it is to write an entire report or similar document only to discover that key information is missing. Outlining skills can also be used to plan a process or map out a non-writing project ahead of time, which is especially useful when delegating or collaborating with others.
Grammar and Clarity
Grammar is a set of rules that govern the use of language. It’s what encourages everyone to communicate in a similar manner and, as a result, to gain a better understanding of one another. There are numerous rules of English grammar, and you should at least be aware of the most basic. Knowing obscure little quirks of grammar isn’t usually necessary unless you’re a writer or editor. What you need to know to communicate in writing is how to construct a clear, easy-to-read, and understandable sentence.
Revising and Editing
Editing is the process of improving a piece of writing, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, by correcting and changing it. By making significant changes to a piece’s structure, organization, or content, you can revise or edit it. You could also proofread a piece of writing for misspellings, grammar errors, and typos. In other cases, you may be adjusting sentences or paragraphs to improve flow or reflect a specific tone. Strong editing skills can come in handy in a variety of professional situations, from proofreading a report or presentation for a coworker to spotting a mistake in an email you’re about to send to the entire company.
Even if writing isn’t a requirement of your job, you’ll almost certainly use it to communicate at work. This could include sending an email, messaging someone on Slack or Teams, providing feedback, setting up a meeting agenda, or providing a project update. Being able to communicate clearly through writing will make your work run more smoothly, increase your chances of getting what you want and need from others, avoid misunderstandings, and allow your colleagues to feel informed and included—all of which will help to strengthen your professional relationships.
9 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills
Smith claims that “good writing can help you stand out and get ahead.” So, how do you get better at writing? Here are some pointers:
- Brush up on your grammar fundamentals
- Read (and study) the type of writing you’d like to get better at.
- Select the Most Appropriate Format for the Situation
- Make a plan before you start writing.
- Be Aware of Your Audience and Write in an Appropriate Tone
- Pay Attention to Your Writing’s Mechanics
- Get Recommendations on Your Writing
- Double-check your work.
- Use technology as a supplement, not a replacement.