Do you prefer to text or write to the people you communicate with? How efficiently and clearly would you be able to communicate your thoughts? Workplace writing tasks can be challenging and intimidating for those with poor or average writing skills. However, you can bring your writing skills up a level by following these habits. Here are six ways to improve your writing skills fast.
1 Collect templates and writing samples
Like a squirrel preparing for winter, start collecting writing examples that you want to emulate. Start with an online search of business writing samples and templates. Bookmark websites with great tutorials or save your own files.
Refer to these templates when you work on your next writing task. You may want to paste the template into your document or your email and replace the content with your own words as you write.
Another tip is to save emails that you receive if you want to copy that writing style. I often receive emails from copywriters trying to sell me a product or service. Their emails can be very engaging and intriguing.
When you have a chance, as a practice exercise, copy the words from the email until you become familiar with how it is written.
2 Keep a List of Common Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
Grammar is considered a dull and dry subject for most people. However, like the vitamins you should eat, knowing how to write well is necessary. So how can you improve this writing skill without torturing yourself with lengthy grammar lessons?
Start making a list of common grammar mistakes that other people make. Do you know the difference between their, there, and they’re? Do you know when to use “therefore” and when to use “therefor”? If the answer is no to any of these examples, then start a list of grammar mistakes for yourself to review.
Also, turn on the grammar check function on your email and documents. Doing this will help to reduce grammar errors such as “She should of gone on vacation” versus “She should have gone on vacation.”
Bad spelling doesn’t necessarily indicate low intelligence or poor writing skills. Accomplished writers Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were bad at spelling. However, even if writing isn’t one of your favourite activities, taking the extra time to check your spelling can make you look smarter. You will definitely look more professional.
To improve this writing skill fast, turn on spell-check functions in your email and documents. This will help reduce silly typos such as “tommorrow” instead of “tomorrow.”
3 Use Simple Vocabulary and Write Shorter Sentences
You might be wondering if writing longer sentences and using bigger words will make you appear smarter. It’s true. In the academic world, it’s common to write in longer sentences with more complex vocabulary. But at the workplace, plain language is just as effective at getting the point across.
To improve your writing skills, use plain language. Start with choosing the simpler word when you have two words with similar meanings. For example, say “use” instead of “utilize.”
State your main point before going into details. Your thoughts should be clear and easy for the reader to follow. One way to do that is to use the active voice. Stick to one topic (or idea) per paragraph.
Your sentences should be only between 15 to 20 words in length. If your sentence is longer than that, consider splitting the sentence into two.
Plain language, or clear language, is ideal for the workplace because the writer states the point clearly and directly.
4 Establish a Writing and Editing Process
Lastly, have a routine for your workplace writing tasks. Some recommend starting your day with the most challenging tasks to make sure they get done. Procrastination could make a writing task even more discouraging if you dislike writing. In this case, work on these tasks first and reward yourself with doing tasks you enjoy (or just the easy tasks) after.
For each task, establish a routine. I start by checking what needs to be covered in the task. For example, do I need to answer specific questions in an email? Do I need to attach a file? Do I need to do research and present the data in a table?
After finishing the writing task, I check grammar and spelling, and double check my facts. Then I set the task aside. If I’m working on a critical document, I’ll leave it until the next day to check it over.
When I return to the writing task, I read it aloud. Hearing my own words helps me catch awkwardly written sentences or repeated words. For example, I might notice I repeatedly use the same word, so I will substitute it with a synonym for some variety.
Having a routine for your writing task ensures you won’t miss important steps, such as a final edit of what you’ve written.
If writing is not your favourite subject, don’t worry. You can improve your workplace writing skills quickly by following some quick tips and creating solid writing habits. Keeping a list of spelling and grammar mistakes you often make, for example, will help you to minimize careless errors. Collect writing examples that you can copy for your writing tasks. Most importantly, have a writing routine that includes editing. If you follow these tips, you’ll look far more professional and competent.
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