Note: This post is written by Julie Petersen
Unlike geometry and chemistry, the skills you learn in your writing classes will actually take you pretty far in life, that is if you invest the time needed to hone your skills.
Here are eight practical reasons why it’s important to improve your writing skills, as well as eight tips to help you with the process.
1. You Can Promote Yourself
Even if you don’t choose writing as a profession, strong writing skills can come in handy when you want to promote yourself and your career. Consider all the cover letters and resumes you will need to write over the next few years.
2. You’ll Be More Valuable at Work
If you can draft effective emails or other written communication, your boss might add more responsibility to your job description. You can become the “go-to” writer or editor in your office.
3. You Can Persuade Others
Do you have something you’re passionate about? Would you like to encourage your friends and family to get involved or make a donation to an important cause or charity? Your writing skills can encourage them to act.
4. You’ll Be Smarter
In the same way that reading a lot of different material broadens your horizons, writing about varied topics allows you to learn more about the world around you. The more you write, the more you learn.
5. You Can Better Plan Your Goals
Writing out your goals can help you achieve them. Write out a solid game plan for what you want in your life over the next year, five years, ten years, or more. Writing out your goals may also change your goals.
6. You Can Get to Know Yourself Better
If you get into journaling daily, you will start to learn about yourself and how you see the world. This may lead to wanting to change certain aspects of yourself or improve yourself. You can do this by keeping track of your progress in your journal!
7. You Can Help Your Friends
It’s nice to have a practical skill that you can use to help those who are close to you. Do you know a great cook or someone who can sew up the tears in your clothes? Do you recognize their value? The same can be said of your writing skills. Everyone needs writing skills from time to time. Be the person your friends turn to when they need help or advice.
8. You Can Make Extra Money
Writing skills are extremely transferable. You can use them to market yourself in any position. You can also use them to earn money as a freelancer – either editing for friends and family or starting a side business.
Tips for Improving Your Writing Skills
1. Take A Workshop or Class
Getting involved with a class will force you to be accountable to other people. This will make you more likely to practice writing and take the task seriously. You’ll also learn valuable information that will improve your writing skills.
2. Write Every Day
Without practice, you will never improve at anything. Writing is no exception. Make sure you write something every day, even if it’s just a journal entry or a long letter to a friend.
3. Read More
Reading and writing are intrinsically linked, for better or for worse. Reading sparks your creativity, improves your imagination, and expands your vocabulary. In other words, it makes you a better writer.
4. Make an Outline
Outlines help your writing take a more defined shape. They also help organize your thoughts and make a stronger argument in the body of your paper (or manuscript, essay, letter, etc.). Outlines are your friends!
5. Be a Mean Editor (For Yourself)
It is only through editing that you will learn how to improve your writing. What would a professional editor say if they read your work? Would they say you use “like,” or “this,” too much? Would they say the writing is too complex or too boring? Be ruthless. It’s the only way you will improve.
6. Do One Thing at A Time
When you sit down to write, don’t worry about editing. There will be time for that later. Set aside specific chunks of time to write your outline, do the research, write, and edit your work. It will allow you to fully commit to the task at hand.
7. Write Multiple Drafts
It’s okay if your first draft is awful. It should be! That’s why it’s called your first draft. Be prepared to write several drafts, with revisions in between, before you call your work finished.
Becoming a great writer will not happen overnight. It will take practice, time, and effort. But given all the reasons above, the effort is certainly worth it. Your writing skills will take you far in life if you let them. Don’t shy away from the work. It will pay off in the end.