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Why You (And Everyone) Should Learn to Write

Bethany Skidmore on Jul 27, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Maybe English was just another class you slept through in high school, where symbols were overanalyzed and you had to write an essay every week. Lots of people don’t ever take an English class past the ones they’re required to take. Still, as boring as essays are, good writing skills are an extremely important tool in the job market.

Sound Smarter

Good writers sound smarter. When someone writes well, people notice. When your communication is clear, people will respect you more. They’ll have an easier time interacting with you, and it’s certainly easier to impress them. Fortunately it’s easy to make yourself sound smarter.

Avoid using turns of phrase or clichés. Our brains are built to skip over phrases we encounter often. If you find yourself writing something like “get to the bottom of it,” “read between the lines,” or “think outside the box,” try to go back and put it in your own words. Secondly, avoid using excessive amounts of adverbs. Cut out words like “extremely” or “very.” Use stronger verbs and adjectives instead, so you don’t need the qualifiers. For instance, instead of saying “He walked very slowly and extremely slowly to the window,” use stronger words and say something like “He meandered dejectedly to the window.”

Do Better at Work

Employers consistently list communication among their most desired skills for employees. In any field, communication between team members or coworkers is important. First, skills like writing, reading, listening, and speaking will help you get the job. Of course, they can be on your resume, but once you get an interview you have a tiny window to impress your potential employer. That employer is likely judging you on your communication skills. It’s the most prominent feature during a short interview. Communication skills also help you keep your job and become invaluable at work. Efficient and concise emails and memos are refreshing in a work environment and they can help you become a valued member of your team.

Avoid using rhetorical questions, even if you’re going to answer them right away. One is usually okay, but more than that seems confusing and pedantic. Try not to repeat words from sentence to sentence. Keep your writing fresh by switching up your word choice.

Become More Efficient

The better you can say something the less time you spend writing it, and the less time other people have to spend deciphering it. Improving your writing skills is in the best interest of everyone you communicate with. Language works in patterns, so the more you write, the more your brain will learn to write, and easier it is to write well in the future. Additionally, if your writing is clear and well put-together, it will be easier to understand. This can help you avoid conflict, misunderstandings, or confusion.

Get to the point within the first three sentences—and then stick to the point. Don’t use “this” or “that” without explaining what you’re referring to. It’s okay to use more words if it will clarify what you’re saying. Use correct grammar. There are many online resources to help you if you’re unsure of whether to use “there,” “their,” or “they’re.” Cut out unnecessary transitions like “so” or “well.” Try when possible to write in the present tense. Writing in the present tense keeps readers engaged.

Learning to Write Better

At the Idaho State University Department of Continuing Education and Workforce Training, we want you to write better. This fall we are offering a class called Write Better, Sound Smarter for you to learn the kind of writing tips that will help you in all areas of communication. Join us this fall. Learn more at cetrain.isu.edu.

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