Writing is a soft skill that is essential to career development. Employers highly regard writing skills and are on the lookout for them when recruiting. Writing styles have become heavily dependent on spellcheck, emoticons, speak-to-text. Possessing good writing skills allows you to communicate clearly and create useful resources in the workplace. Whether it's a simple email or a multiple-page, complex report, writing skills can come to good use.
Your writing abilities can help you get noticed by recruiters. They can also help you advocate for your interests and work efficiently. In this article, we discuss what writing skills are, why they are important and how you can improve yours.
What are writing skills?
Writing skills are an essential part of communication. They include the ability to capture a readers attention and clearly express ideas through written words. Good writing is more than putting pen to paper (or finger to key). It involves the correct use of vocabulary, grammar, spelling and punctuation along with being able to engage the reader and convey your message effectively. Writing skills comprise technical elements too, like writing conventions, style guides and formatting.
Examples of writing skills
Writing is a complex process. It involves a range of skills to translate ideas and information into readable content successfully.
Some of the most beneficial writing skills include:
Research involves sourcing accurate information and best practices related to writing about a particular topic. With a sea of information available on the web, having the ability to recognise quality sources is essential.
The structure of a piece of writing needs to be logical. Mapping out the framework and flow of a piece of writing before beginning is an important skill. It will allow you to write content that is compelling and easy to understand.
Proficient editing skills contribute significantly to the overall quality of the end-product. All writing, no matter what type, needs to undergo some form of editing. This includes re-reading the piece of writing while checking for everything from spelling errors, to grammatical errors, to tone suitability and structure.
Reading comprehension skills are what writers use to determine the key idea and tone of a piece of writing. This skill helps when reading your writing from the perspective of another reader. It helps ensure your message is well delivered.
Efficient time management should exist in all parts of the writing process, from research to editing. Great writers can plan how long a piece of writing will take them to research, write and edit. Time management is especially important during the editing phase, as it's easy to spend a lot of time over-editing. Recognising when to wrap up a writing task is key.
Why are writing skills important in the workplace?
Good written communications can engage employees, persuade customers to and entice investors. Let's take a closer look at some of the reasons why writing skills are important in the work environment.
Writing skills can:
Enhance workplace communications
Communication skills are a soft skill often lacking in the workplace today. Written skills allow you to get your message across in a way that is informative, direct, easy to understand and act upon. Writing proficiency can enhance workplace communications and connect different departments and parties associated with the business.
Provide opportunities to showcase your knowledge
While many jobs don't require much writing, do seize the writing opportunity when it comes about. Often, written communications in your workplace gives you a chance to showcase your knowledge and expertise by conveying your ideas in a clear, concise manner. When your name is attached to a document, it's important to ensure that it's flawless. A proofread (or two) go a long way in achieving this.
Boost your credibility
Never underestimate the power of a well-written document free of punctuation errors, misspelt words and awkward sentences. Producing a well-written piece, whether a simple message or a detailed annual report, can boost your credibility and quickly too. Good written skills may enhance the perception your colleagues and managers have of you. Having the ability to put together clear writing and taking the time to make sure it's error-free can highlight your professionalism.
Allow you to express your ideas
Not everybody understands the art of persuasion. However, with good writing skills, you're halfway there. Whether you are trying to convince management to implement a new process or encourage senior partners to give your proposal some thought, how you express yourself in writing can have a real impact.
Increase your confidence
Do you lack confidence in your office, position or career? Becoming an effective writer can help build it up. Business-related writing is important in the workplace. Having writing skills means you may be able to contribute to it. Producing a well-written document can help you impress your superiors and give you a confidence boost.
Refine your thought process
Our brains seem to run a million miles an hour these days which can lead to blurred ideas. When you improve your writing skills, you also train your thoughts to be more organised. A refined thought process can do wonders for your writing, as well as many other aspects of your life.
Assist you in building a powerful online presence
Writing skills can help you build a powerful online presence that showcases your knowledge, experience and professionalism. A key way to develop your career is to become a source of valuable information. Whether it's through well-written articles, professional commentary or thorough reports, writing skills can help elevate you both in and out of the workplace.
Tips for improving your writing skills
Some have a natural knack for writing. It's important to note, however, that anybody can develop writing skills. There are a few ways to do this:
Be clear on what you're writing about
In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it yourself.”. To produce good writing you need to understand what it is you are writing about. If your writing has an aim, ask yourself what the aim is.
Understand your audience
A key step to improve your writing is to learn to understand your audience. It helps to put yourself in your readers' shoes. This will help you get the tone right and answer the necessary questions. Context is important. Whilst you don't want to over-explain, you don't want to leave blanks either.
Keep it simple
Great writing doesn't need to be complicated. Bureaucratic or creative writing is not always simple to read. It slows readers down and can increase the risk of your message being misunderstood. Depending on what you are writing, less is often more. Varying sentence length and simple words can help ensure your writing is easy to comprehend and has a good flow.
In all but the most formal of writing, it's a good idea to let your personality shine through (within reason). Write naturally. Be true to yourself. You'll find this goes a long way in improving your writing skills and helping you build rapport with your readers.
Read your writing out loud
While on the subject of flow, a great way to determine if your writing 'reads well' is to, well... read it! Reading it aloud allows you to pick up on sections that sound choppy or drag on. It can also help you notice any other errors, like spelling mistakes or incorrect use of punctuation.
Have someone else read your writing
Once you have read your writing, have someone else read your writing. Better yet, have them read it out loud. Like many things in life, having a fresh pair of eyes and an 'outsider' opinion can help you realise a lot. In most written communications, you're not writing to be understood by yourself but rather to be understood by others.
Practice makes perfect! Not all jobs are going to need you to write daily. So, you need to put aside time to practice your writing on your own. It pays to focus your time and attention on the types and areas of writing where you feel you could most improve.
A foolproof way to improve your writing skills is to read and do it often. The more you can expose yourself to different styles of quality writing, the easier it will be for you to produce writing of a high standard. Not everybody finds it easy (or enjoyable) to read. Just like writing skills, you can develop reading skills over time. As for finding time to do so - set yourself a small and manageable goal, for example, to read two pages a day before bed.
Play grammar games
The benefits of grammar games and quizzes are not to be underestimated. They are a great way to hone your knowledge of sentence structure and spelling and can take your writing skills to the next level. There are many options to choose from and some of them can be a fun way to spend a bit of downtime.