30 Oct Here’s How To Become A Better Writer
Originally posted on Forbes.
The coffee is brewing. Your eyes are adjusting to the light.
Morning has hit and the first thing you do is—reach for your phone.
Stop right there.
Instead of letting yourself fall into the trap of checking email and getting updated on social media, take the time to be productive and build a skillset that will actually help your career on all fronts: writing.
As an author, writing is my true love, and it’s been a part of my life since I was a kid. While I know not everyone else loves it like I do, I also know writing skills are necessary in today’s workplace, whether for quick text messages or long briefs.
First impressions can be made in as little as 33 to 100 milliseconds. Writing is no different, and spelling, grammar and punctuation are some of the first things an attentive reader will notice and judge.
Here are three reasons being a proficient and well-versed writer will help you grow your future and how to do just that.
1. You will get more promotions.
People with strong writing skills are perceived as more reliable and trustworthy. Honing in this skillset with not only help you in your current role but will help you move up the corporate ladder. A study by Grammarly noted that those with fewer grammatical errors in their writing correlated to more promotions and higher salaries.
This doesn’t mean emails and reports without grammar errors are a quick shot to CEO, but it does create more credibility. When you come across composed and well written (or spoken), opportunities will be offered to you. In most jobs you will spend one third of your time writing and 73% of managers want employees who excel at this skill.
Think about it this way, if you received an email with poor sentence structure, and a bunch of typos, no matter how great this employee was, your thoughts may be more likely to point to them being unreliable, lazy or negligent.
Building this skillset will set you apart from others, especially in the worlds of technology and engineering, where many employees don’t lead with their writing and communication skills.
Writing Tip #1: Build Your Writing Muscle.
Try an experiment with your writing for 30 days! Commit to practicing your writing every single day. It is a muscle and skill that you can build over time. Set aside 30 minutes each day and write something related to your line of work, be it an opinion you have or a draft of something you know you’ll need to say or write. This could mean you focus on sending a very important email to a top tier manager, or write a professional blog post that you add to your LinkedIn Profile. This not only helps your writing skills but will grow out your personal brand as a professional!
“The more you write, the easier it will become. Writing is not only a process of improving your skills as a professional writer, but also your skills as a creative person. When you look back a year later, you will be blown away by how much you have improved.” – Kirsten Trammell
2. Job offers will come more easily to you.
The job hunt holds a great deal of writing. After your résumé and cover letter get you into the door, you’ll need well worded follow up notes to interviewers, and an entire email chain to even enter the interview process.
When I work with coaching clients on the job hunt, I help them improve their résumés and cover letters specifically for this reason. Writing isn’t going to be the one way ticket to a promotion, but if you don’t do it well, you have a lot to lose.
According to HR managers, 80% report that the quality of a thank-you note post-interview is a helpful determining factor in hiring a candidate. Keep it short, show your enthusiasm and of course, make sure there are no grammatical errors. If you are sending multiple emails, or you’re doing a lot of copy and pasting, make sure to have each one with the correct name.
Writing Tip # 2: Read more.
Many acclaimed authors all say it: in order to be a better writer, you must read. The more you read, the more exposure you have to broader vocabulary, ideas, and perspectives.
Plus, the more you read, the more likely you are to be successful. Let’s look at Warren Buffet, for example, who reads 500 pages every day, or Bill Gates, who reads 50 books a year. Stop with the Netflix binge and start reading more.
While you work through your job hunt, find blogs and articles that are published in your career path, or perhaps even by the company to which you are applying. Take notice of their writing style, the niche vocabulary and the overall tone of their content. If that starts to feel exhausted, you can always pick up a self-development book.
Even better, read a book or a timely article and write a short review or a blog about the lessons it taught you. Start to do this and build your own library of spark notes to refer back to. Not only will this make you a better writer, but it improves comprehension and the ability to understand concepts more deeply.
“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!” – William Faulkner
3. You will get along with others better.
When you consider that 66% of companies offer some form of remote work, with 16% fully remote, a great deal of communication has shifted from face-to-face to online. Even if you are not a remote employee, you likely rely heavily on email, text and instant messenger platforms to share professional information and connect.
In a matter of seconds, your short email or IM exchange can either charm or turn away a colleague, very well be by mistake. In fact, 80% of employees admit that miscommunication occurs in their daily work life. This is largely due to the absence of facial expressions, tone of voice and body language gestures. There is very little to help the reader understand how the other person is conveying even the simplest of messages.
When you learn how to improve your emotional writing skills, you not only will be able to maintain relationships with coworkers but also build them. And when the time comes, you can leverage your writing and communication skills to help persuade others to achieve their goals.
Writing Tip #3: Keep a journal.
This might sound similar to Tip #1, but journaling has a whole different style of writing. Set time aside each day or week to turn inward and allow yourself to write free-flowing, don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure, allow yourself to pen to paper and write out how you feel about a person, situation or turn inward and reflect upon yourself.
Write from wherever your curiosity is taking you. This has been huge for me as a career coach, in helping others find their purpose at work. Far too often, we have thoughts living inside of us that we’re not aware of until they hit the page.
You can turn to this writing practice when you need to resolve a disagreement with someone or work through a challenge. When you write about the misunderstanding, as opposed to letting it fester inside of you, you can take on the other person’s perspective more easily, find creative solutions, and come to a sense of resolution without sending that short and fiery email you’ll likely regret the next day. When you journal and vent about your emotions studies have proven you actually speed up the process of recovering and reveal things you didn’t even know you felt or thought.
The more you journal the better you will know yourself, and connect to your emotions quicker. This will help you understand what feeling or thought you want to convey the next time you turn online for a conversation with a coworker.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” –Anne Frank
Writing is a skillset and a tool that is not going anywhere. In fact, it is only becoming more important in the workplace.
So buy that book, purchase that journal and start building your writing abilities today.