Why is it important to have good writing skills?
Good writing skills are highly demanded and valued by employers. Whether you recently completed your grade 10, already completed a higher education qualification, or are newly registered to further your studies, everyone needs good writing skills. In academia, we often receive Curriculum Vitae spoiled with spelling and grammar mistakes or assignments strewed with incomprehensible sentences. Good spelling and grammar are essential because they enhance your credibility and reduce the chances of miscommunication and interpretation, which is critical in a business and academic environment.
How to improve my writing skills?
Whether you are a receptionist, human resource practitioner, business owner or devoted researcher, you will need good writing skills to produce well-written essays and reports to showcase and present your arguments and to be taken seriously. While some people may be naturally talented (like our Head of Academics) at writing, others may need extra practice and guidance to improve their skills. Fortunately, you can install many useful online writing tools on your computer and follow quick guidelines to improve your writing style. We know that good academic writing is well-researched, well-structured and well-argued.
Tips and resources to improve your academic writing skills
#1 Install online editing and proofreading resource
When it comes to good writing skills, an online tool can remove the fear of writing. Online writing applications can dramatically improve your grammar and punctuation. For example, Grammarly is a cloud-based application that reviews your spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement and delivery mistakes. It has a free version that allows you to test its functionality with limited support. The beauty of the application is that it applies to all your writing in emails, social media platforms and any other applications you use, even in text messages. Grammarly also allows you to customise your profile to suit your writing needs.
#2 Read and write as much as possible
The more you read, the more you will appreciate good language and foster good command of the language, which will assist you in composing well-written texts that can positively impact all aspects of your academic work, not only your assignments. Practising your reading and writing abilities is the best way to improve your reading and writing abilities. Reading journal articles inspires you, gives you new ideas and improves your sentence structure, language and tone. It will help you formulate arguments, summarise ideas, and conclude. Journal articles are well structured because they have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion with recommendations.
Each assignment you write must be viewed as a new attempt to improve your academic writing skills. Learn from your previous effort and improve your writing each time by writing short paragraphs with appropriate headings, limiting jargon, avoiding vague and long sentences, and ending each section with a conclusion.
#3 Compose a sound argument
A good argument is presented in a clear, logical way. You do this by giving facts transparently and convincingly. Do not make unsolicited claims or assumptions that the reader can dispute. Support your arguments by including possible counter-arguments. When answering an assignment question, ensure you understand what the question asks you to do. Look for keywords such as ‘assess, evaluate, discuss, compare, etc. These words give you an indication of what kind of evidence you must include in your answer. To present a well-argued essay, you must apply good referring skills. You cannot offer a sound argument without including experts’ opinions. Use in-text citations to give the author/s credit for their ideas and thoughts, and remember to include a reference list at the end of your essay.
#4 Edit, re-edit, and re-edit, ask for opinions!
The best writers get people to edit their work. Do not take their criticism personally. Instead, see it as part of your learning process!
Feedback is intended to improve your writing skills. You read over your writing mistakes because you know what you want to write. Once you finish your writing, leave it for a day or two before you read and edit it again. When you reread it, try to consider a fresh perspective. Be critical of your works, and question every sentence. Interrogate what the sentence is trying to convey. Don’t include an unnecessary sentence. Each sentence must add to the discussion and have a definite purpose.
#5 Write for your defined audience
Assume that your audience comprises intelligent people familiar with the discipline but may not be subject matter experts. No matter who you are writing for, get your point across without stating the obvious. Don’t waste time defining things that your audience is aware of already. You may need to explain specific terms and definitions to your audience in academic writing. Still, if you are writing to your Chief Executive Officer (CEO), there is no need to define company lingo.
Practice these skills daily and soon you will be able to produce well-written reports and be a great communicator which are essential job skills.