It’s that time of year again! Millions of students around the world are graduating from college or graduate school, armed with degrees that promise to launch their careers.
As they embark on their first job, many new graduates soon discover just how critical knowing how to write well is to their success. No matter how much technology we have to help us do our job better, we all still rely heavily on written communication to get things done. Whether it’s an email, a business plan, or a blog post, knowing how to write well is an essential skill.
Lack of adequate writing skills could become a serious career liability. A 2004 Conference Board survey of 120 corporations concluded that most companies take written communications into consideration when making their hiring and promotion decisions and implied that many current or prospective employees lack the requisite skills.
Fortunately, writing well is a skill that can be learned– and you don’t have to sit in a classroom at an expensive university to learn it. There’s an abundance of resources available for learning how to write well. You just need to acknowledge the importance of knowing how to write well, identify your skill gaps, and then take action toward acquiring the skills you need.
Here are five ways new graduates can develop this essential skill:
1. Read books about the craft.
Hundreds of books are available to help you learn how to improve your writing. Many of these are aimed at nonfiction writers, while many are written for fiction authors. While I write nonfiction, I enjoy reading books about the craft of fiction, because they contain many valuable strategies for effective storytelling that I can use in my writing.
2. Read great writing.
Professional writers agree: If you want to become a good writer, you need to read, read, and read some more.
3. Follow writing blogs.
There’s no shortage of blogs available to help you improve your writing. Struggling to understand the difference between a metaphor, analogy, and a simile? Plug your question into Google and see where that takes you.
4. Take an online course.
5. Start a blog.
Reading about writing, taking courses, and listening to podcasts can only get you so far, though. All the pros know the best way to learn to write well is to write. It’s a mental muscle you need to build like any other, and one that requires consistent exercise. And one of the best ways to get this exercise is by blogging.
They’re free, easy to use, and they give you access to their enormous global audiences. If you write content that resonates with readers and publish consistently, you can start to build an audience that will look forward to your next post.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” ― Aristotle,