A picture may be worth a thousand words — but sometimes, three clearly written sentences can be worth more than an entire novel. As today’s workforce moves online at higher rates than ever before, the ability to communicate through writing has become a component in any job; being a better writer is more important than ever. It’s so easy to misinterpret the written tone online, which means it’s up to you to make sure your writing is top quality, easy to understand and doesn’t require an hour of translation on the receiving end.
The Components of Good Writing
The first component you can employ to ensure you’re producing quality writing is ensuring your spelling and grammar are correct, as per the rules of your language. Advances in spellcheck across almost all major software platforms make spelling seem like an easy win – however, you should always watch out for homophones and homonyms that may trip you up. For example: there, their, and there are all used in completely different ways in each sentence, but none of them will trip your spellcheck. Likewise, here and hear are both similar-sounding words, but can’t be interchanged. Watch for other easy trip-ups like tense changes, improperly used apostrophes, and pronouns. Use punctuation correctly as well; sentence fragments and run-ons are equally hard to read through.
The second component is style – while some pieces may call for you to write with flair or pizzaz, in this case, style refers to something a little different. Good writing draws you in; it has varied sentence lengths that have clear and concise meanings. Style may not matter as much in a three-sentence email but recognizing the difference between writing a formal report and writing a casual blog article is vital. If you’re writing online content – even if it’s your own – you need to develop a style that others find entertaining to read.
The third component is just as important as style, grammar and spelling: knowing your audience. Knowing your audience affects the style in which you write. Think about who you’re targeting – you wouldn’t write to a younger audience and an older audience the same way.
Practice Makes Perfect
Yes, the adage is true: to become a better writer, you’ll need to practice the art. One of the best tools to become a better writer is daily writing. You don’t need to agonize about it, though; you can take 10 minutes a day to jot down some thoughts in a journal, or 30 minutes a day to work on a professional project. You can submit your work to an online analysis tool, send it to a friend to get their opinion, or look up individual grammar rules you may be confused by. Checking your work against standard language rules will help you know what mistakes you shouldn’t make again, and your work will evolve appropriately.
Reading: Turning Input to Output
One of the best ways to learn about writing is to read other works similar to what you are looking to produce. If you’re in a technical work environment, this might mean setting aside some time each day to read through professional literature to learn about the style. For a blogger, other blogs that approach the same topics can be a great resource. For an aspiring novelist, find some pieces in your desired genre and read those publications.