Just a few weeks ago, on October 20th, our country celebrated the 4th annual National Writing Day. It's a real thing; look it up! While the day itself might not mean much, and chances are you didn't even know about this "holiday" until just now, what it represents is something a whole lot bigger.Some might believe that writing skills are a talent that every person who graduated high school or college would possess. But I'd argue this to not be true. The ability to write, to persuade people with your words, to change someone's mood, opinion or thoughts, even just to make someone truly think, is something that takes years of practice and dedication.
In the era of of computer-driven professions, be it marketing, advertising, PR, journalism, programming, HR, teaching or more, it's becoming more and more important to be able to express yourself (and the views of your company) simply through written word.
Surely right now you're thinking, "But Casey, there are videos and pictures!" And you'd be right. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But how do you get someone to click on the link to your video or picture in the first place? Words.
Still don't think writing matters in today's world? Here are five reasons that, thanks to my writing skills, will hopefully change your mind:
Expressing Who You Are - Writing cover letters. Resumes. College essays. Emails. Chances are you probably can't name a single person who hasn't done at least things in their professional lives. Without writing skills, how would you ever be able to express who you are as a person to that potential employer, the admissions board of that perfect college or exactly what made you so invaluable at your last position in your resume? The ability to express who are are in words doesn't just stop at the details, but continues on to the personality of you. When you can successfully implement your personality into your everyday writing, you'll be miles in front of the rest.
Writing For Different Audiences - Companies have a lot of moving parts: Employees, customers, investors, partners, marketing, sales, IT, business development- Well, you get the picture. Point is, all of these individual parts should be considered different audiences to which you should cater your writing to. Writing a Facebook post for your customers or fans requires a much different tone and voice than writing an email to your investors, which is drastically different from writing a case study to send to a potential partner. Knowing how to properly curve your words to sway and please the audience in question is something that takes time, but when you've got a knack for it, you'll realize how invaluable it is.
Ability To Adopt Brand Voice - Did you know that the average college graduate nowadays has five different jobs before they reach the age of 30? That means a lot of resume, cover letter and email writing. But once you're employed, it doesn't stop there. In my personal online marketing experience, I've learned the craft of adopting the voice of a company as though it was my own, whether it be thought website content, social media posts, blog posts, customer service emails or even case studies. Even if you're not a public-facing employee at your company, chances are you'll have to write emails to someone on the outside, and learning the skill of representing your company through writing is very important.
Communicating & Relating To Your Readers - This goes hand-in-hand with Writing For Different Audiences, although this is on a more personal level. Being able to properly communicate and relate to your readers is just as much "writing skills" as it is "putting yourself in your readers shoes." Coming up with a case study or whitepaper? As a potential customer, what would you like to read about? Drafting a Facebook post? What is something that you personally would like to read. Put yourself in your target audiences shoes and think about what you'd enjoy reading. Then write it.
Desirable In All Aspects of Life - Take a look at job descriptions for just about any career path. I can promise you that at least 75% of them involve superior writing skills. In a world full of lolcats and viral videos, content is still king, and being able to talk to people, convince people, market yourself or your products or your company to people, is an incredibly important skill to have. Not to mention, proper grammar is a rarity nowadays, thanks to tweets, texting and more. If you can properly use a semi-colon, you're a god (or goddess) among men. Congratulations.
So now that you're completely convinced that writing skills are the best ones to have (besides nun-chuck skills or computer hacking skills, of course), how do you improve them? Well, it's simple: write! As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Ask for feedback from others, but you should always be your biggest critic. Write blog posts about your life experiences, craft your Facebook posts and pay attention to how your friends and family react. Notice a pattern in writing that works and garners a reaction? Stick to it. Build on it. You'll be a pro in no time!