Communication through writing has become embedded in society at large. Writing allows us to access vital information or engaging stories by reading articles, blogs, magazines, and books. Sometimes, written information helps us find a solution to a problem. Your writing skills are an important communication tool for your career, and both novice and experienced writers can always improve. In this article, we discuss what makes an excellent writer, why these skills are essential, and provide examples of skills that every writer should possess. We also provide examples of how to showcase your writing skills on your resume.
What are writing skills?
Writing skills are an essential part of communication used to share relevant information with a target audience. These skills enable you to communicate without leaving room for speculation, doubt, or mistakes. For instance, when writing a detailed report, memo, or preparing a resume, you need excellent writing skills to convey your message.
Why are writing skills essential?
As a professional, writing skills influence the content and interpretation of your work. For example, the way you write your resume is important to prospective employers, so it's necessary to prepare polished, error-free resumes. Writing skills are also essential for other professional communications like a project pitch, emails to clients and colleagues, reporting, and presenting analyses. Professionals with strong writing skills are effective communicators and seen as more credible.
What makes a good writer?
There are certain writing skills that every type of writer should possess. These skills improve with practice and experience, so be conscious to improve your writing whenever you have the opportunity. If you write a lot of emails in your role, ensure you proofread them closely for typos and spelling errors before you hit send. If you're writing a pitch to a client, review it carefully to make sure it's concise, and maintains a professional tone throughout. A good writer is someone who considers and takes pride in their written communication, whether it be a novel or a memo.
Writing skills every good writer should possess
Here are some key skills shared by all successful writers:
Ability to communicate
Good writers must be able to communicate their ideas and information to their readers. Having excellent communication skills in writing encompasses everything from grammar to vocabulary. Prioritize using the words that best convey your idea or message. An extensive vocabulary is an asset, but a great communicator also knows they need to cater to their audience. In some cases, complex words and industry terminology can end up confusing the reader or distracting them.
If you're writing to a general audience, use simple words and sentences to make your work easier to read. Even in situations where detail is necessary, such as giving instructions, consider your audience and find ways to communicate your message with clarity.
The audience you're writing to also determines your tone. When the topic is formal, avoid using jokes and anecdotes. This kind of writing changes the tone of your message and makes it come across more informally and can sometimes appear unprofessional. Someone with strong writing skills can determine the right tone for their audience and stick to it.
Having excellent writing skills also involves organizing and structuring your work. Organizational skills include your ability to use your energy, physical space, and mental capacity effectively and efficiently. This concept also applies to writing because you need to arrange your points carefully so that your audience or employers can receive and understand your message.
Knowing how to research
When you need to write about a subject you're not familiar with, research skills are vital. Outstanding writers conduct research to widen their perspective and stay informed. When you encounter a topic you're unfamiliar with, extensive research should be your first action. Research equips you to find solutions to problems, address them effectively, and inform your decisions.
Ability to think creatively
Being an excellent writer involves creative thinking and imagination. As a writer, you must ensure that your content is engaging and relevant to your target audience. Creativity is an important soft skill every writer should possess. It makes your work interesting and appealing. Being a strong writer involves being imaginative and seeing things from a unique perspective. For creative writing works, like novels or short stories, talented writers choose their wording carefully to engage the reader. Consider a unique outlook and presentation to improve the readability of your work.
The primary goal of prewriting is to help you collate your points after research and brainstorm for more ideas. Analytical skills are important here because you have to consider specific questions about what you want to say and who your audience is. These questions help you structure your writing and develop the best strategy for how to communicate with your readers most effectively.
Commitment and discipline
In order to grow as a writer, you must commit to improving your skills. Being a professional writer requires versatility and a lot of dedication to the craft. Strong writers learn from their mistakes and focus on improving their communication and writing style in their future work. This is also true for those who use writing in their daily role and professional communications. The more you practice writing, the better you become at it.
Being an avid reader
People with excellent writing skills have a few things in common. One of which is that they're all avid readers. By reading books, news articles, blogs, and other works, you get inspiration from other effective writers. This inspiration isn't always conscious, but by reading regularly, you'll pick up good writing habits, expand your vocabulary, and much more.
There are so many prominent and successful writers to learn from by reading their works. Doing this influences how you write and unconsciously improves your writing skills. However, the goal is not to make unconscious improvements, but to make conscious ones. So as a writer, when you're reading someone else's work or communication, make sure you observe the style and mechanics used by the author. Reading more is an effective way to contribute to your self-development as a writer.
Good narrative skills
An excellent writer must have sound narrative skills to explain an idea that they are trying to convey. This skill involves knowing how to structure the contents of your work. As a creative writer, you need to attract a reader's attention to the underlying purpose of your writing. This is unlike professional communication, in which you need to make your points as clear and concise as possible, without an underlying message.
Creative writers need to be familiar with the plot narrative structure. This is especially relevant for novel, article, and essay writing, among others. A talented writer prioritizes attention to detail so that their readers can understand the message they're trying to convey.
After preparing your draft, revising your work should be the next thing on your mind. To ensure you catch typos, spelling errors, and grammar mistakes, thorough editing is a necessity before publishing. This applies to even the most seasoned professional writers. One or more revisions also give you the opportunity to assess whether you're using the right tone, and that your message is clear.
It's crucial to review your writing at least once before sending, printing, or publishing. For important documents or formal communication, ask a colleague, friend, or family member to review your work as a second opinion. Editing sites are also extremely helpful when reviewing your work, and can identify spelling, typos, grammar, and make suggestions to improve your writing. Websites like Grammarly and ProWritingAid are just two examples of several sites that offer editing services for free in different languages.
How to showcase your writing skills in job applications
Your writing skills directly influence the job search process and your career. When preparing your resume, cover letter, and attending interviews, showcase your writing skills in the following ways:
On your resume
Through your resume, employers can evaluate your writing skills by reviewing the organization, grammar, and overall presentation. Your choice of words is key because resumes have to convey a lot of information in a limited space. Be concise and consistent with your spelling, verb tenses, and formatting. Most importantly, be sure to edit your work with a lot of focus and attention to detail before sending it to a prospective employer.
In your cover letter
Your cover letter gives you some room to showcase the creativity and persuasiveness of your writing. Unlike resumes that need to be concise and contain only key points, a cover letter lets you emphasize your creative writing skills. Editing this element of your application closely is advisable because it acts as a first impression.
During the interview process
When scheduling interviews via email, exhibit your writing skills by sending concise, error-free, and professional messages. Post-interview, send a short thank-you email to your interviewer to restate your interest in the job.
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