This post is featured on behalf of Mike Hanski.
So, you want to write a book, a blog, or just write for fun. Or maybe you hate writing, especially after dealing with tons of academic assignments in school and college. Whatever your case, you wake up one day to the fact that writing skills are essential to your career.
But what can you do if your professional writing technique leaves much to be desired? What if your proposals fall flat, reports look dreadful, and business emails sound unprofessional? What if your writing just takes too long, becoming exhausting and demotivating at the end of the working day?
Lucky for us, this skill is less about natural talent and more about learning via doing. Yes, it requires patience; yes, you have to work hard and practice every day to polish it; and yes, you can improve your professional writing skills right now.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Brush up on your grammar.
Knowing the basics of grammar and spelling is crucial, regardless of occupation. You’ve got to admit, it’s unprofessional to send emails, create reports, or maintain business communications online while your texts are riddled with elementary errors.
Better grammar is a matter of practice, so consider investing in the best books, online resources, and tools to check your work and learn how to write well.
Try out online resources such as Grammar Girl and Daily Writing Tips; download applications such as My Spelling Test and Practice English Grammar; and don’t forget about dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster, to make sure your spelling is up to scratch.
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2. Organize your writing flow.
To create effective business documents, you need to have confidence in your writing skills and find the perfect place to organize your ideas.
Regarding the former, consider online programs such as Grammarly or Hemingway App to review work, identify your trouble spots, and make sure your writing doesn’t sound weak or vapid. As a result, you won’t spend hours proofreading and editing your documents, time after time, uncertain if they flow well or not.
As for the latter, test out several places and find out where you write best. Some need music on their headphones, while others prefer writing in peace and quiet; some choose coffee shops, while others can work only if there’s nobody around.
The thing is, different places work for different types of writing. So don’t force yourself into using one sole location.
3. Develop writing habits.
Specific habits can help to improve your writing because they make it a regular practice, a crucial factor in shaping skills. Here are some examples of habits to practice daily:
- Write every single day, even if it’s just a 100-word note in your diary or a post on Facebook.
- Read the news regularly to encourage cognitive skills, learn from professionals, and get writing ideas.
- Practice freewriting on mornings: it stimulates brain activity and allows to free the subconsciousness. Try 750Words or Written?Kitten! for inspiration.
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4. Analyze everything you read.
To write better, you should read. A lot. Reading expands vocabulary as well as helping to learn — from gurus, who demonstrate their know-how in practice. Reading inspires, teaches, and allows you to understand idiomatic expressions better.
However, to develop professional writing skills, you need to read critically:
- Pay attention to which words authors use.
- Copy–and practice–the best writing tricks from them.
- Take note of what language patterns, grammar constructions, or stylistic devices you can incorporate into your own writings.
Another trick is editing your early works. This helps you to develop a critical eye and focus on trouble spots.
5. Get comprehensive writing help.
If grammar is not your only problem, consider online courses, local classes, resources offering professional writing help, and one-on-one tutoring to polish your professional writing skills.
With this in mind, you might want to take a look at:
- online courses from Business Writing Center
- syntax training from Writing Tune-Up for document planning
- Email Excellence samples for better email writing
- tutorials from Purdue University’s OWL for creating reports
Also, try googling “non-degree” or “continuing education” courses to find business writing classes. Many colleges and universities offer them for free.
Writing is a skill. So if your goal is to hone this skill, then make sure to write as much as possible. Start a blog, evaluate how you write emails, compose meaningful posts on social media, or ask for more writing projects at work.
No matter what strategy you choose, the great news is writing skills develop with training.
All you need to do is get started.