There has been a lot of focus on writing skills with my clients. Three of my clients find that their writing skills are hurting them in their professional careers. Are your writing skills impacting your career?

Here are a few facts about the group:

  • Client 1 is an attorney and their firm identified their writing skills as a deficiency.
  • Client 2 is educated as an engineer and is not working.
  • Client 3 is senior manager and is applying to top-notch universities to enroll in their MBA program. He continues to be denied even with high GMAT scores.
  • Each person has graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree, minimally.
  • Two of them are first or second generation immigrants. Both of them have excellent verbal skills.
  • Two of the three have low self-confidence in their writing skills.

Tackling Low Confidence

It is no surprise that low self-confidence impacts your progress – in any goal. The fear of not being successful stops even the most talented people, regardless of  their position or career potential.

Writing is one of the basic forms of communication. The assumption that you have great writing skills because you are college educated and yet can’t write is one of those dirty little secrets.

Who wants to back and learn about grammar, punctuation and sentence structure? It sounds kind of boring and remedial.

As with most things in life that you want to master, the more you practice writing, the better you get. When I look at my first posts on Elephants at Work, I cringe – I want to eradicate those posts from my blog. But, I don’t because those posts show how far I have come in developing my writing style. Am I perfect – by no means!

Think of writing as a challenge. You don’t have to write a blog to get better. You do have to know and apply basic writing skills and find ways to practice it. For example, you could take a creative writing class at the university, start a personal journal or offer to write articles for a not-for-profit newsletter.

The Writing Process

When you first being to write, expect to work hours on each article. Writing is a process and here are the basic steps:

  1. Pick a subject you love and know about it. Your topic could be about careers, origami, photography, music or bio-physics.
  2. Let the words flow on paper. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation and sentence structure while your thoughts are being captured.
  3. Go back and check grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.
  4. Set your article aside and let it rest for a day.
  5. Review your article again for content, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.
  6. Use the resources available in Word or other editors to do check. Don’t rely on these programs to catch the errors. Use other resource materials.
  7. Ask for feedback – have someone else check your work.
  8. Refine your article again.

The writing process gets easier the more you write. You may be able to combine a few steps when editing becomes automatic.

Writing Resources

There will be times when you should use a third-party resource or editor. If you are writing an essay, book or other piece that will be judged, let someone else check your work.

Using a writing resource is not an excuse for lazy writing basic skills. If what you write is bad, expect to pay dearly for someone to clean it up.

Here are writing skills resources that my clients or I have found helpful: