How to be a Great Writer
Being a good writer can be beneficial to your life in ways that you never knew. Whether you’re a business owner, a professional or a student, being able to write well can help you do things more effectively, get better grades and persuade people that you want to have an impact on.
How can writing skills help you?
Writing skills can help you in taking your business to the next stage, including the following ways:
- Grab buyers’ attention in digital or print marketing
- Save costs by not having to hire content writers
- Entice potential investors with great business proposals
- Network effectively via email or social media connections
- Increase traffic for your website
- Increase retention of website readers or members
Being an influential writer can help in furthering your career and fulfilling your role more efficiently, even if your job doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of writing:
- Communicate ideas better via email
- Ask for what you want or pinpoint exactly what you need (e.g. to suppliers, colleagues)
- Get what you want (e.g. from your boss) by the power of persuasion
- Lead your team more effectively and become more likeable
- Be able to represent yourself and your company better
- Seem more credible and intelligent with good grammar and spelling
Even science students need to write lab reports. Even if your course doesn’t include writing, good writing skills can help you get far:
- Get better grades by writing better essays and reports
- Save time when writing essays and reports
- Get more help from your professors or tutors by explaining what you need and why
- Become more creative and think logically
- Increase your chances of getting into uni or grad school
- Increase your chances of getting a job or an internship
Below are some of the easy-to-implement ways to improve your writing skills. These are for generic writing and especially helpful for writing with the goal of enticing your readers.
Use correct grammar and spelling.
The most obvious way of improving your writing skills is to use proper grammar and correct spelling. Incorrect use of grammar and spelling can make you seem less credible, professional or intelligent. And especially with spellcheck on pretty much any device now, you really don’t have any excuse to get it wrong!
Just as great writing can persuade and entice readers, horrible writing can bring about negative emotional reactions. A piece of writing or an email with grammatical and spelling mistakes can make the recipient feel unimportant and even disrespected that the writer couldn’t put a little more effort in to correct these simple mistakes.
Know your audience.
Knowing who you’re writing to or for helps you target your writing to a specific audience. Either address the target audience or acknowledge them in the beginning of your piece. This helps the reader understand that your writing is meant for them and that they’re likely to relate to the content.
Provide a reason.
Similar to knowing your audience, give your audience a reason why they should read or continue to read it. What will they get out of it? Will they learn something? For example, this article started with the premise that good writing skills can help further your career, run your business more effectively and get better grades. Giving a reason means outlining how the piece will be useful for the reader and can entice them to read further.
Write with a goal.
Why are you writing? Before you start writing, you need to understand exactly what you’re trying to do with the piece of writing. The goal doesn’t mean ‘because this essay is part of my assignment and I want to pass.’ It is a specific goal that you’re trying to achieve, such as ‘I want this essay to show that moral objectivism doesn’t have a place in society with the presence of moral relativism.’
Once you know your goals, write them down and keep going back to read them throughout the piece. Make sure that whatever you’re writing stays relevant to the point.
Use UK/Australian English.
Use the appropriate language and grammar depending on your audience. When writing for an Australian audience, use UK/Australian grammar and spelling. Of course, it wouldn’t be incorrect to use US grammar, but using the language that the readers are familiar with helps them relate. For students, it’s probably already a requirement to use UK/Australian grammar for your academic pieces. Check your assignment guidelines and make sure that you’re following the rules.
Use simple English.
Refrain from using complex sentences and fancy words. Depending on the topic, you might have to use jargon, unusual abbreviations and acronyms. However, your sentences should be simple and clear. Long and grammatically complex sentences can lose the reader’s attention half way through, and confuse them as to what point the sentence is making. It doesn’t hurt to break up a long sentence into 2 or 3 shorter sentences, either.
Be descriptive and specific.
When explaining a concept or delivering emotions, be as descriptive and specific as possible. Instead of ‘The room made me feel sad’, try ‘The dim lights, musky smell, and dusty photo frames displaying the happy family of four… It was the kind of room that made you imagine the lives it once held.’ The goal here is to have the reader come to the conclusion on their own, instead of spelling out what they should think or feel.
Great writing skills come with practice. Although some people just seem to have a natural talent for writing, it is not a skill that anybody has without experience. It also depends on the type of piece you’re writing. When you’re writing a lab report, it needs to be concise, well-cited and formal. On the other hand, an opinion piece or a blog can be emotional, informal and witty. Challenge yourself by writing different types of pieces and learn the techniques from your favourite writers. And where applicable, implement some of the points above into your writing style, and keep practicing!