I do my best proofreading after I hit ‘Send.’
Whether you’re currently in school or years out of it, being able to clearly express yourself is a valuable skill that can set you apart. Our minds are incredible organs that can process information and piece together logical thoughts, and yet so many seem to struggle with communicating those thoughts in emails, resumes, or even social media posts. We all have something to say, and being able to communicate what we want (or need) to say is an important skill that touches both work and personal life.
“Writing is a life skill, not just a basic work-related skill, as it is often the basis on which others judge your studies, your values, your ideas, and your contribution to society. Writing is a soft skill that many people may not consider necessary for their professional development” (Bellamy, 2022).
Starting in elementary school, we are taught everything from how to use a comma to the creation of a sentence. While we continue to use these basic lessons throughout our school years, only those inclined towards an English or writing career pursue deeper training into the finer points of writing well. This shouldn’t be the case. If you want to earn good grades on a paper, be taken seriously in society, or have any kind of career, you need to have good writing skills.
“Surely one reason so many Americans lack writing skills is that, for decades, most U.S. schools haven’t taught them. In 2011, a nationwide test found that only 24 percent of students in eighth and 12th grades were proficient in writing, and just 3 percent were advanced” (Wexler, 2015).
Nothing says ‘unprofessional’ like a poorly written email or an essay with no coherent flow of thought. Today, when anyone can be their own publisher, we see more and more examples of poor writing skills both in print and on the web. Poor writing skills create poor first impressions and many readers will have an immediate negative reaction if they spot a spelling or grammatical mistake (Writing Skills, 2022). Correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling are the foundational blocks of anything written well. If you have multiple run-on sentences or fragments, don’t use the proper verb forms, or demonstrate that you don’t know when to use an apostrophe, whatever you have written will certainly lose credibility and cause your reader to lose interest (because they’ll be too busy critiquing your writing).
If you are unconvinced about the importance of accurate writing, think of the clues we use to identify spam emails, “phishing” websites, and counterfeit products: poor grammar and spelling (Writing Skills, 2022).
If you need a refresher course in the basics, a simple Google search or grammar manual is a good starting place. (Not to put anyone down, but there’s a book called Basic English Grammar for Dummies out there…). There are also online resources such as www.englishgrammar101.com that can help you relearn those pesky little details that seem to slip the memory.
“But I can’t remember all of the grammar tips, and I don’t have time to try to figure it out.” Good news! Not everyone is going to be a word whiz who can write well, but that is no excuse to continue sending/posting/submitting poorly written content. Whether you’re trying to compose an email, fill out your personal resume, craft a social media post, or nail down a blog post, there are tons of writing software out there that can help (Macarthur, 2021): LibreOffice, Zoho Writer, Dynalist, Grammarly, and Scribus (to name a few).
Have a paper or longer presentation that needs a professional touch? There are actual people who proofread documents for their job; either you know them already or you can find freelancers on places like Fiverr, Upwork, or Guru.
You don’t have to be the next best-selling author to be heard. Not everyone is a wordsmith or eloquent writer. No matter how you are getting your message out, keep in mind that the well-written receive the most validation.
Bellamy, J. (2022, February 19). Why Are Writing Skills Important? Retrieved from Paragraffs: https://paragraffs.com/why-are-writing-skills-important/
Macarthur, S. (2021, August 24). 15 Best Free Writing Assistant Software 2022. Retrieved from Rigorous Themes: https://rigorousthemes.com/blog/best-free-writing-assistant-software/
Wexler, N. (2015, September 24). Why Americans can't write. Retrieved from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-americans-cant-write/2015/09/24/6e7f420a-6088-11e5-9757-e49273f05f65_story.html
Writing Skills. (2022, July 28). Retrieved from Skills You Need: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/writing-skills.html
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