If you’re a communications professional who has been asked to strengthen your writing skills, take heart: writing well is a learnable skill. Here are three tips I often share to improve the mastery of pen and pixel:
Write a lot. You know that in athletics and music, the more you practice, the more proficient you become. Writing is no different. The more you write, the better your writing gets. Start a blog; keep a journal. Craft memos, strategy papers and progress reports. Ask your boss if you can contribute to the company e-newsletter or new draft copy for the website. Seek out all opportunities to put your thoughts in writing. After you hand in your assignment, be sure to seek feedback that will help you improve.
Read a lot. This one is tough because reading—really reading—requires not multitasking. The more I read, the better my writing gets. Put away your phone, close your email, turn off your social media notifications, and sink into a long read. All this focused reading will enhance your grasp of grammar, flow and vocabulary.
Take a class. Check your local college or university for night classes that focus on writing for print. The one I took my first summer out of college was “Writing for Magazines” and it was very helpful. Better yet, find yourself a basic journalism class. The classes that will be most helpful are those that assign you a topic, give you a deadline, expect a quality product in return, and then critique that product.
Give these tips a try. The boss will love your newfound enthusiasm for your work. In the process, you’ll hone a writing technique that should eventually become second nature. Or at the very least, you won’t loathe writing assignments as much.
Joe Flood says
Taking a journalism class is excellent advice. Even better: be a journalist. Try writing some freelance articles yourself. Look at how articles are constructed – a catchy headline, a lede summarizing the piece, supporting paragraphs, quotes, statistics, etc… Practicing journalism will help you understand what journalists want.
Margie Newman says
Joe, that’s so smart.
You know, one of my few regrets in life is that I did not write for the my college paper, The Auburn Plainsman. My best friend was the editor one year and she kept telling me that being a reporter then would be so good for me later. (sigh) Wish I had listened!