Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” – Annie Proulx
“Read, read, read. Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
Have you ever heard of writing skills? Do you know what that means? And also, do you know what it means to have good writing skills? When a person hears such questions, they may be wondering: what is it all about? Most people know how to write, that is, hold a pen and write letters, and make sentences, which means that all people are inherently gifted with writing skills. So, the question feels a little strange. But although most people know how to write, not many people have good writing skills. In this short article, we are going to talk about what it means to have good writing skills, what these skills are, and how to develop them.
So you must be thinking that to have good writing skills means being able to write a book or something like that. No. You don’t have to be Stephen King, Danielle Steel, or Dan Brown to say you are good at writing. Having good writing skills means being able to effectively communicate your ideas on paper and in a succinct way. Apart from the physical act of writing, writing skills include many other subskills such as planning, making an outline of what you are going to write, editing and revising your text, as well as paragraphing and organizing your writing in a way that will be accessible to your reader.
Are writing skills important?
With all certainty, yes. Writing is a type of communication skill. So let me give you one small example of why having good writing skills will be a prerequisite for your professional success. People working in the same company usually communicate via email. They send dozens of emails a day, communicating various messages. Employees who do not have good writing skills will struggle to communicate their message in a clear way and most likely be misunderstood by their colleagues. On the contrary, those employees who possess good communication skills will have no trouble formulating their thoughts, putting them in sentences, and sending them to other people. So just the fact that you need to write emails at work is already a good argument in support of developing writing skills.
How Can I Improve my Writing Skills?
There are many ways of improving one’s writing skills. In this article, we are going to elaborate on some of them.
Think About Your Readers
Your readers, the people who you are addressing, and their needs and expectations of you, will shape your writing in many significant ways. Before writing ask yourself these questions – why am I writing to these people? What am I trying to communicate to them? Do they already know any information about what I am going to tell them? What actions do I want my readers to undertake after they have read my message? You will see that once you have answered these questions for yourself, writing and communicating your ideas will be much easier.
Get to the Point
One of the reasons why some people’s writing is ineffective and even boring is because they fail to grab the attention of their readers straight away. Currently, people have short attention spans, they are pressed for time, so they hardly have time to read the lengthy text you have sent them. So make sure that after greeting your reader, you should start communicating your message immediately.
Scientists say that if you are trying to capture someone’s attention in an email you have little time, just about eleven seconds. So write to your readers with that information in mind. Avoid unnecessary words, which do not make your text any better.
Use Correct Tone
Again, your tone will depend on to who you are writing your email or letter. If you are writing to your boss you should opt for a formal style of writing. Likewise, if you are applying for a job you should also steer clear of the informal way of speaking. It should be said that in most professional settings, a formal tone is always the right one and you can’t go wrong with that for sure. But do not overdo it: sounding overtly formal may not be a good idea too.
Carefully Proof Read
Many people are guilty of sending their emails or writing their reports without even bothering to look at them. Big mistake. Sloppy texts laden with grammatical mistakes will come across as rude and unprofessional. So even if you are pressed for time, you should not click send button without going over what you have written. If you are not confident about your grammar, there are various websites, so-called grammar cheekers, which can help you identify typos and grammar mistakes. Having error-free text will be a pleasure to read.
Improve Your Writing Skills
Yes, you can improve your writing skills by writing, but there are other ways of improving them. Reading for example. Get a book that interests you and start reading. The more you read the more you learn about different writing styles and the better your own writing style will be.
All successful writers recommend reading as a way of enhancing your vocabulary and making sure that your brain has all sorts of ready-to-use sentences that you can use when being pressed for time and having to write a lengthy message. You don’t have to limit yourself to reports or scholarly texts – just try to diversify the things you read. When reading, try to pay attention to sentence structure, the use of words, and the ways the writers are using to present their information to their readers. Pay close attention to the way they construct their sentences and how they structure their paragraphs to get their point and ideas across to their readers.
Also, seek out feedback. You can get your feedback from your senior colleagues – those who you believe are skilled and experienced at writing. Also, you can ask your boss for feedback as well.
You can sign up for writing classes if you believe you have a special interest in writing. There will know how to write sentences in a way that captivate your readers’ attention. You will also be taught how to write punchy introductions and conclusions.
In this short article, we have discussed the importance of writing skills. We have explained what these skills are and why they are important. Contrary to a widespread opinion that having writing skills means being able to execute the physical act of writing, things are certainly not as simple as that.
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.