We all want to become the best version of ourselves, both personally, academically and professionally. In every aspect of life, being an expert in written communication can get you far. Writing a great admission essay can get you into your dream college. Creating a passionate and driven cover letter can get you the job you always wanted. Writing great emails to your team can make you a company superstar.
But, how can you focus on this skill and really get better at it every day? Here are some of our tips:
Try the “stream of consciousness method”
The stream of consciousness is a method developed by modernist writers of creative fiction. It refers to an automatic act of writing which aims to capture everything that crosses your mind. Of course, this is not recommended for everyday written communication, but it’s a great tool for getting over writer’s block and getting more comfortable with a blank piece of paper.
Make writing your daily ritual
When you really want to get better at something, it’s important that you stick to that decision and make it a ritual. In the bestseller “Atomic Habits”, it’s explained how even the tiniest of changes (marginal improvements) can make huge changes in a person’s life. In other words, imagine getting just 0.5% better at writing every day (although it’s not a skill that can be measured in such a straightforward way). What would your writing look like in a year, or even better, 5 years?
Do vocabulary exercises (as often as possible)
Melanie Sovann, a writing expert and editor at BestWritingAdvisor, says: “Even Pulitzer and Nobel-award winning writers continue working on their vocabulary every day, so why shouldn’t we? It’s not only a matter of technical writing skill, but learning new words will reconnect you to those early days when you were drawn to reading and writing in the first place.”
Nowadays there are many writing resources you can use to improve your written communication. You don’t have to go to business writing and correspondence classes or writing seminars. Simply do a Google search on vocabulary exercises and you will find tons of resources.
Run your writing through grammar checkers
Grammar and spelling checkers shouldn’t be used only when you’re sending an email to your boss. They are actually a pretty nifty learning tool, especially if you are using them on a daily basis. For example, using a grammar checker regularly will identify some of your most common mistakes, which you will then become aware of and correct more easily.
It’s especially recommended that you double or triple-check important texts with different grammar checkers. This way, you will minimize the chances of potential mistakes going under the radar of some of these tools. This is especially important for documents like CVs, cover letters, motivation letters, admissions essays, scholarship essays and similar.
Add plugins and add-ons to your browser and email provider
Just like grammar checkers available online, there are plugins for websites and browser add-ons that can help you improve your writing. For example, Grammarly, one of the best-known grammar checkers, has a browser add-on that checks your grammar and spelling in real-time. The learning process can be deepened this way, because you will be correcting your mistakes as you’re writing, not after the entire text is done.
Read, read, read
It seems like a bit of a cliché advice for someone who wants to get better at writing, but it really is one of the most effective strategies. When you want to improve your daily written communication, we don’t mean that you should read Shakespeare or Shelley (although that would be awesome, too).
Rather, focus on modern, everyday forms of communication like blogs, articles, discussion threads and so on. Try to identify patterns and structures used in writing that you like the most. When you recognize these structures, try to deliberately include them in your own style of written communication. It sounds unnatural, but it’s really a perfectly normal way to improve your writing style and get it to a level where you would like to be.
Ask for feedback
If you’re not sure where you stand with written communication in the first place, try asking someone for advice. We recommend you ask someone whose writing style you like. They don’t have to be professional essay writers or novelist. It can simply be that you like the way they text. Try asking them the following questions:
Emphatize with the reader
Reading your own texts can be confusing and, of course, subjective. Have you ever written a block of text to someone in a hurry, practically typing your thoughts into a keyboard, only to have the other person tell you that they “don’t understand what you’re saying”? Then, as you read the text back, you start seeing that it’s not so easy to get on the first try, after all.
This is precisely what you want to avoid in written communication. You are never writing for yourself (except in journals, which is a different topic). You have to keep in mind that another person will be reading through that same text. That person doesn’t have direct access to your thought process, so you will need to be clear and coherent.
Developing your written communication skills can be a lengthy process. However, if you keep at it and make it one of your priority goals, you will start seeing progress quickly. Remember to set aside a fixed slot for writing each day, even if it’s only a couple of minutes.
Finally, turn to others for help, both in terms of reading the texts written by others and asking their opinion about your own writing. This will help you get out of the trap of your own perspective and see your writing through a different lens.
What do you do to improve your written communication skills on a daily basis? Has increasing your written communication skills helped your career? How?
Written by Estelle Liotard
Estelle Liotard is a writer, editor and proofreader. She works with leading essay and academic writing websites. When students search I need help writing an essay, she is one of the first names that will pop up. She has built this reputation through years of hard work, dedication and passion towards writing.