Knowing How to Write Matters
Students in STEM and business fields sometimes go through college wondering why they need to know how to write. After all, they won’t be crafting essays for work in the real world. These students may feel frustrated when they lose points for poor grammar, spelling, or writing errors. However, most of us use our writing skills every day after graduation.
Writing well often translates to communicating well, which is vital for any position. Consider the fact that many English and literature majors wind up in communication-based roles. Good essays are well-organized, logical, and easy to follow. It makes sense that knowing how to write helps you communicate better. For example, if you work with customers and the public, run meetings, or just send emails, you need to know how to express yourself. Notably, miscommunications cost businesses a combined total of $37 billion in profit each year.
Even if you’re out of college now, it’s never too late to improve your writing skills.
More Job Opportunities
As we mentioned, poor communication skills lead to a loss in profits. Thus, employers are more likely to hire people who demonstrate that they know how to express themselves.
Today, most resumes and applications are handled online. Employers can see poor writing skills from the get-go. They’ll see inappropriate capitalization, typos, and grammar issues. Usually, hiring managers won’t look past those problems.
Poor writing skills often translate to being unprofessional. Employers will see the issues and think you didn’t care to correct them. Also, companies can’t risk that professional messages will go out filled with typos and errors. It hurts their image and branding. Errors can also result in unintentionally offensive emails. Similarly, if you misspeak and tell a customer something untrue, it can cause serious and even legal issues.
Thus, demonstrating good writing skills can mean a higher chance of getting a job or promotion.
On a similar note, knowing how to write can help you network. Like job applications, a lot of networking is done online these days. LinkedIn remains the most popular networking site. The site works mainly through posting and direct messaging. As a result, you need good writing skills to communicate with any potential connections.
If you’ve ever had Facebook, you’ve probably seen someone share strange and confusing posts. This content won’t do much harm when you’re only connected with friends and family. However, sharing poorly written ideas can put people off when you’re networking. And, again, these posts can wind up offending someone. To network successfully, you must ensure that your online profile contains quality business writing.
Not every sentence needs to be polished and professionally edited. Some people believe that the occasional typo humanizes content. After all, is it a person or a robot running your profile? However, your content needs to be clear. Your message can easily get lost in poor grammar.
Knowing How to Write Helps You Learn
An added benefit of knowing how to write is that it helps you learn. Basically, when you write, you engage in “retrieval practice,” where you recall information you previously learned. When you recall something, your brain forms new connections to that info, making it easier to remember.
Imagine studying the body’s systems for an exam. You stare at the anatomy model but can’t remember the specific functions of the lymphatic system. You know it’s related to your immune system, but how? So, you pull out a notebook and write down everything you can remember. Each piece of information you jot down jogs your memory. In the end, you have a list of every term you can remember.
Notably, it can be hard for most of us to visualize new, complex information in our heads. We have the info, but we can’t remember it all at once. Writing allows us to put it all down in one spot and makes it easier to recall in the future.
So, how does that help outside of college? As we climb the job ladder, we often get new responsibilities. Some of these new roles can be difficult or frustrating. Writing out the task can help you get over the learning curve faster. Notably, you can craft a journal, blog post, or mock email. Or you can write it out like a section in a training manual. Often, putting it on paper helps you reach that “a-ha!” moment faster.
Additionally, good writing skills can make it easier to ask for help. When you don’t have the words to ask a question, getting assistance becomes much more complicated.
Be More Creative
Brainstorming sessions are valuable for coming up with new ideas and methods. Writing can be an excellent substitute if you don’t have someone to bounce your thoughts off. For example, freewriting is the process of taking a starting word and letting your creative juices flow.
You may be trying to think of a new product or service you can provide for your customers, but you’re not sure what you can do. For a freewriting session, you’d jot down a general idea, then every associated thought you have. There is no editing as you’re meant to get out of your head. So, if your product is pie, the process can look something like the following:
Pie, cherry, strawberry, berries, smoothie, ice cream, pie ice cream cups. We could sell ice cream served in a mini berry pie.
Sometimes your ideas will be actionable. Sometimes it’ll just be a creative process. Ultimately, your writing could land you with a great new product or idea.
Furthermore, getting things on the page can lead you to new ideas. For example, as you explain your process, you may notice something redundant. Step two may have been useful before an update or new technology. Now, you can skip it. When we get used to a routine, we rarely stop to think about it. It’s not until you write things down that you recognize the problem.
Learn Different Types of Writing
When you think of writing, you likely picture essays or novels. However, there are many different types of writing. For example, emails and responses, handbooks and manuals, business letters, and reports are all a part of professional writing.
Every position will involve some writing or documentation. Thus, employees who can express themselves and create clear reports have the upper hand in the job market.
In addition to the career benefits, you may also find you enjoy writing. Many people get overwhelmed by college essays and job reports or emails. However, disliking essays doesn’t mean you’ll hate all kinds of writing. Truly, you might find you have a passion for journaling or creative works like poetry or science fiction.
Furthermore, there are a few specialized kinds that you can turn into a side gig or career. Below, you can read more about grant and content writing.
Grant writing is vital for funding the programs and projects of non-profits. Majorly, anywhere from 20-50% of funding comes from grant money in this industry. From a career perspective, grant writers make, on average, $48,000 to $54,000 annually. As a side gig, experienced professionals charge up to $100 an hour.
Additionally, grant writing is a stable job. Non-profits are always searching for writers as the process can be complex and time-consuming. Untrained employees aren’t prepared for the rigors or requirements that go into grants.
You can learn more about the process of grant writing through online classes. Truly, there are many resources available to perfect the trade.
Content writing can similarly be turned into a side gig or career. Notably, content creation is used by businesses to bring in more organic traffic online. Additionally, content writing is a great way to break into the industry if you’re interested in marketing or advertisement. You get to learn what brings people in.
Most content writers work in freelance, so it can be difficult to calculate the average salary. However, the median estimate is around $20 per hour. Specialized content like SEO can pay even more.
We mentioned previously that content writing can always be used for networking. Making articles about your field can interest other professionals. Thus, you can wind up with valuable connections to help your career.
How to Improve Your Writing
So, we’ve gone over why knowing how to write matters. Now you’re probably wondering how you can improve your writing. Like any skill, it will take time. The English language is tricky and complex, especially in terms of grammar.
However, there are many routes you can take to improve your writing for both business and pleasure.
The adage “practice makes perfect” remains true for writing. The best way to improve your writing is to write. Some fields will take specialized training. However, you can improve your general ability just by doing.
In other words, if you practice creative writing, you’ll still see improvement in your professional documents. The factors that make novels easy to understand are the same that make emails easy to follow. So, your growing ability to explain magic in a story will help you explain concepts across the board.
Use Online Tools
At this point, you’ve likely heard of or used writing checkers like Grammarly. These tools catch typos, incorrect grammar, and other common writing errors. As a result, they can be an invaluable learning tool.
After writing an essay, report, or email, run it through a grammar checker. Don’t autocorrect every highlight. Instead, go through them one by one and see what the checker has caught. Notably, these tools aren’t perfect. They can’t understand your intent and may give incorrect suggestions. However, you can see issues you weren’t aware of and learn from them.
Take a Class
If you’re currently in college or have graduated, you should consider taking an English or writing class. For graduates, many schools offer the chance to audit certain courses for a lower price. You can learn from experts and receive grades on your assignments. Receiving grades and feedback can greatly impact your progress. Notably, a grammar checker can tell you what’s wrong and provide a solution. An instructor will tell you why it’s wrong and how to improve your writing overall.
Additionally, websites like Udemy offer cheap classes that can teach you the basics of writing. Specialized programs like grant writing or even an MBA will provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed in your field.
Ask for Feedback
You can still receive valuable feedback outside the classroom. Your friends, family, and coworkers can help you improve your writing. For example, say you create an email you need to send to your department. Ask a trusted coworker to proofread it and ask for suggestions. They may find something confusing. Then, you can fix it and save yourself a headache later when the whole department asks for clarity.
If you’re working on content or creative writing, don’t be afraid to share your work with trusted family and friends. Sometimes, they may be nicer than your coworkers or strangers would be, but they can still provide valid input.
Overall, having someone else double-check your work can help identify confusing statements, typos, and other issues.
You can also check out what resources are available if you’re in school. Many colleges have a writing center or tutors available. These experts can provide professional proofreading services and help that is covered by your tuition.
Improving your writing can take work. However, it is worth the effort. Better writing often means better communication skills. Employers prefer to hire and promote employees who can clearly express themselves.
Additionally, your writing abilities can make learning easier and help you remember more concepts. Tasks and critical thinking skills improve alongside writing. Notably, your brain creates more connections as you write things down. Thus, it makes learning new duties and studying easier.
There are many ways you can improve your skills. Even if you’re skipping a degree or you’ve already graduated, you can still take steps to become a better writer.