Don’t kid yourself. No matter how well spoken you are, your writing may betray you. What can you do to improve your confidence and skills related to your writing?
1. Write often.
Interesting research exists on the benefits of writing in a journal. One study cited in Prevention magazine showed that those who write in a journal about losing a job may dramatically increase their chances of landing a new one. In the study, one control group wrote about their feelings related to being laid off. Fifty-two percent of these daily writers secured jobs within eight months, while only fourteen percent of the non-writers found jobs in the same period.
When you write your daily e-mail messages, focus on making them concise, organized, and clear. Answer the journalist’s questions: who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much. Add the question “so what?” That’s a question you don’t want your writing to create in the mind of your reader.
2. Read critically, not passively.
Reading quality writing can also improve your writing. Find a columnist in your daily newspaper whose work you enjoy. Read that person regularly, noting what you like about the writing. Is it the descriptive details? The easy flow? Try reading the column out loud to “hear” the writing. Practice that columnist’s techniques in your own writing.
Often you don’t have to go any further than your computer to read good writing. You may derive inspiration from a colleague’s e-mail messages that make you laugh or stimulate your thinking in a new direction.
3. Get feedback.
Elicit comments about your writing from your peers. Is your tone harsh? Is there a grammatical mistake that recurs? Be open to tips for improvement in your writing. Try to think of your writing as a skill that you are continually improving. Attempt to be objective when someone gives you feedback, or your defensiveness will interfere with your learning.