We are all writers, including you. It’s true! While you may not be a professional author, you write in your daily life more than you might think.
Writing is an important skill, and we use it in everything from the informal to the formal. Social media posts, emails, essays, reports, resumes and cover letters, sales and marketing materials, and technical and legal documents all require writing.
While we all learn to write in elementary and high school, how can we continue to improve our writing skills? Like any activity, writing improves both through practice and by the application of fundamental techniques.
Below are four skills that you can apply to your writing to make it more effective, easier to understand, and more polished.
While it is certainly possible to jump in immediately and start writing, in almost every case, this will not produce the most ideal results. Instead, before you type or write a single word, research the topic on which you’ll be writing.
While to many this may sound a bit on the boring side, not only can it be interesting to learn about new topics but having this knowledge before you begin writing will both allow your writing to progress more quickly, and your finished product will be much more thorough and accurate. It will also help you understand your target audience and how to best convey your message to them.
Now that you have your background research in hand, you may be tempted to get the actual writing process moving. However, before you do this, the next key skill to utilize before you begin writing the content itself is planning and outlining. This creates a structure, a roadmap for you to follow as you write.
This may sound like an unnecessary extra step. However, developing a structure is an excellent writing strategy that ensures all the research information you gathered is fully and effectively incorporated into your writing with nothing essential missing at the end. Think of this structure as the frame of a house, with the walls and roof (or your researched information) filling in the structure to complete the building (or writing) process.
Grammar is the rules that dictate the use of language, and it is applied to all forms of writing. While our school days may prompt many of us to cringe at the very mention of the word “grammar,” and some largely ignore it in their writing, paying close attention to grammar as you write is key.
Not only does proper grammar help make a written document appear more professional, but it can also help reduce confusion by readers who may make mistakes in interpreting the intent of your writing. Improper grammar in your writing can leave things “lost in translation,” requiring you to explain it later.
You have now used the structure to craft your research into grammatically proper written content. The final thing to apply in completing your writing is editing and proofreading. Editing is the process of performing final reviews of your writing and making changes where needed. This strengthens it into a more complete, polished, and effective finished product.
Your writing may only require some relatively minor changes, such as correcting spelling, punctuation, and grammar. However, you may also find that major changes are in order, such as updating the structure or style to make it easier to follow or to more effectively present your case.
We all use writing in our everyday lives, and good writing is essential in effective communication. You can improve your writing through practice and by diligently applying these four fundamental steps.
It won’t be long before you are writing more quickly, professionally, and effectively!