11 Essential Writer Skills and Ways to Improve Them
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Excellent writing skills can help you effectively communicate your ideas to any audience. Even if you're not a full-time writer, your duties might involve writing business documents or promotional content for a company's products. The ability to write clearly is a foundational skill that can help you succeed in your career. In this article, we explain why writer skills are important, outline a list of essential skills for producing good writing, and provide tips on how you can develop these skills.
Why writer skills are important
Writer skills are important in positions that require you to communicate clearly with an internal corporate audience or external customers. Crafting a clear and concise message is important in advancing an idea or relaying a critical message. In business, writing skills are useful for many tasks such as developing reports or proposals, drafting e-mails, or writing speeches for an executive.
If you're looking for a job, demonstrating strong writing skills in a resume or cover letter makes a positive first impression on an employer. A company may sometimes ask a professional writer to draft a copy with little notice on a critically important topic. An excellent writer can be valuable to any company, so understanding the skills you need can ensure that you continuously develop your craft.
11 essential writer skills
A company hires a writer to draft communications on a variety of topics for different audiences. An experienced writer produces high-quality content that projects the client's tone and message. Regardless of the type of work a writer does, they may benefit from having the following skills:
1. Expert knowledge of English grammar
Good writing starts with understanding English grammar. This includes rules regarding verb tenses, punctuation, and sentence construction. Producing content that is grammatically correct interests a reader in what you're trying to convey and typically increases the credibility of your work.
2. Communication skills
A professional writer can typically craft a message that is clearly understood and captures the reader's attention. Whether you're trying to persuade or influence your audience, the ability to express an idea or tell a story that leaves an impression is important. Excellent communication skills help a reader understand what the writer is trying to convey and, if applicable, what action they might take next.
The way a writer organizes their copy is another example of excellent communications skills. A carefully drafted piece has a logical flow that takes the reader from one idea to the next. Well-organized content means that the audience clearly understands the message and can develop thoughts or opinions on the topic.
3. Research skills
Your employer may ask you to write about topics you're not familiar with. To expand your versatility as a writer, it's important to research a subject thoroughly so that you can write about it confidently. Good research techniques include gathering information from different sources, reviewing your findings, and deciding how to incorporate this information into your work.
Read more: Research Skills: Definition and Examples
4. Time management skills
The company or client you're working for expects you to submit a piece by an agreed deadline. Good time management skills can help you prioritize your work and enables your employer to trust you to deliver work on time. Time management skills can also help you schedule your writing around meetings, interviews, and research to allow you to manage multiple projects.
Knowing when you work best and how long it takes you to complete a task can help you manage your time. It can also help you assess your capacity for additional projects. Planning and scheduling tasks in advance allows you to prioritize your workload.
5. The ability to simplify complex topics
A client may ask a writer to take a complex topic and make it understandable for readers with limited knowledge of the subject. The ability to simplify technical content is an important skill that requires you to select the language and tone that is suitable for your audience. This skill is useful in specialized industries such as science, technology, and medical fields.
6. The ability to understand the target audience
Knowing who you're writing for can help you adjust the tone and language of your message. You can engage a reader who has limited knowledge of a topic by writing in a way that's relatable and easy to understand. It's also useful to know when to use terms and references that are appropriate to a particular demographic to captivate them.
7. Interpersonal skills
While writing is often a solitary job, you may collaborate with other people to complete a project. You may also interview a subject as part of your research. Having strong interpersonal skills ensures that you receive constructive feedback and that you can build rapport with interview subjects to gain meaningful information for your piece.
Developing original content or finding a new way to convey a message can make your writing more engaging to a reader. Employers might appreciate a writer with a unique approach to attracting a new audience. Finding inspiration in other forms of art can be a good way to cultivate your creativity.
9. Proposing story ideas
As a writer, you can consider proposing story ideas to editors and publishers. Editors refer to this as “pitching a story.” Learning how to write an interesting pitch can increase your chances of an editor offering you a paid assignment. A well-written pitch also showcases your writing skills to prospective editors.
10. Understanding platforms and technology
With the increase in online content, understanding how your audience consumes digital media can help you adapt your writing to maximize its effect. Understanding terms such as "Search Engine Optimization/SEO" can ensure that your article receives a high number of views. Learning other techniques specific to writing for a digital platform can provide you with more opportunities to write online content.
11. Paying attention to detail
Paying attention to detail ensures that you submit error-free writing. Producing a document that is concise, accurate, and flawless gives your client or employer a positive impression of the quality of your work. It may also increase the likelihood that an editor considers you for other projects.
Ways to improve your writing skills
The following are ways you can improve your writing skills:
Writing regularly can help you refine your technique. Even if you don't have an assignment, having a consistent writing routine is a good way to try out different styles of writing. This can also be an effective way of exploring fresh story ideas.
Another way to hone your writing skills is to read other styles of work. This is a good way of exposing yourself to new ideas and different perspectives to boost your creativity. Reading other people's writing can also deepen your knowledge of a particular topic.
Take a course
Consider taking a course to improve your writing skills or learn about an aspect of writing that is new to you. For example, if your company has launched new software to communicate with clients, you can learn more about that software and how to write for it. This demonstrates your commitment to your personal development.
Join a writer's network
To get a better understanding of how others see your work, consider joining a professional network or writing group. Networking with other writers can keep you up to date with recent developments in your industry and connect you with new opportunities. Mentoring someone new to the profession can reinforce your own skills and bring you personal satisfaction.
Connecting with other writers is also a good way to gain valuable feedback on your work. A writing group can critique your work from the perspective of a reader to help you understand how others interpret it. This can then inform you of which areas of your work you can improve.
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