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Writing is not important…communication is.

Someone said it wrong. Good writing is good communication.

Like all useful things, it doesn’t come overnight. It takes practice, perseverance, and some more practice. You might ask why. It is simply that everyone can write, but not every one is a writer.  Audio-visual modes of communication, emoticon-full text messages, and social updates have sandbagged the soft skill of writing. But even as wearable tech and voice interfaces pour into the future, this “old-fashioned” art remains the crux for success.

It’s not about writing the next great novel. It’s not about crafting business letters. It could just come down to writing an intelligent Facebook status message and creating an impact. Let’s talk about the importance of writing well, and how we can start the journey with ten ideas.

The Importance Of Skilled Writing

Writing skills

The communicator leads the pack. Here are some back-of-the-envelope musings on the importance of skilled writing for a successful life.

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Get promoted: Show what you know. It may not be about crafting the next contract, but could come down again to writing effective emails How Writing Amazing Emails Can Further Your Career How Writing Amazing Emails Can Further Your Career Sending professional emails gives an intangible boost to your online (and offline) reputation. The ultimate yardstick of artful emailing is if you can bag a job or land a gig with just an impressive email.... Read More .

Get an education online: To be a quick learner you need to be good with listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Online courses restrict interaction and rely on asynchronous discussions through the written word.

Get your social clout: Power-users on social media rely on their writing skills to communicate ideas in capsules of social updates. Conciseness is their ally.

Get to be an expert: Be an ideas man. Ideas need to snowball. Words help you develop them and spread them around, before they are lost.

Get on with a side-project: It could be a blog showcasing your ability or it could be a serious entrepreneurial venture. Writing not only helps you research the details, but also take it forward.

Get confident: It’s a real world skill, and a recipe for confidence if you achieve even one of the six points mentioned above. So, here are some baby steps to begin with….

10 Simple Ways To Develop Your Writing On The Web

Length is not important. You don’t have to write reams to be a skilled writer. A deliberate intent to improve your writing skills in short spurts should get you to a happy place. Dust off the lethargy and bring the Web to your writing desk.

Start A Blog

Student blogs
Starting your own blog is often the advocated way. You can start one around your own interest, or bring your writing to your company’s blog. Start one if your organization does not have any yet. As Yaara mentioned in her post on tackling blogging fears 5 Fears You Can Destroy Today To Become A Kickass Blogger 5 Fears You Can Destroy Today To Become A Kickass Blogger Read More , people will appreciate your ideas if you share them.

Don’t have a job? Maybe, you are a student? Blogging about college and teen life could help you sharpen any roughness in your writing. Look at it this way – you have already put in tons of printer’s ink into writing college assignments. Why not a smidgen of digital ink to express yourself, find your own voice, and maybe create an impression on a future prospective employer. Meet some college bloggers at Harvard.

Getting into the habit of blogging is the second easiest way to practice your writing every day.

Write A Journal

Journal writing
This is the first…if your writing is as disheveled as your morning hair. Journal writing is private. Journaling is back in vogue. It never left, but smartphones and the Web have made writing a journal 7 Ways To Keep A Personal Journal 7 Ways To Keep A Personal Journal Journaling is an exercise for the mind and it has several proven benefits, but it can also seem difficult to do. This is primarily due to the overwhelming feeling of having to journal – it... Read More less of an army exercise. Just write. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s. You don’t even have to be creative because you are writing about your life. Write with passion and you are a storyteller.

Take Over Social Media

Writing on social media
Facebook, Twitter, and Google+  are grapevines that carry your musings at the speed of thought. You can blame the big three for infecting your writing skills with cyberslangs, or you can turn it around and use their constraints. For example, people are sharing poems and fiction Twiterature - The Art Of Literature On Twitter Twiterature - The Art Of Literature On Twitter You can find Twitter users sharing their poetry, short stories, and even the work of famous writers, all in little bite-sized 140-character updates. If you're not sure where to start on your literary journey on... Read More on the microblog. Twitter’s 140 character limit forces you to write persuasive words with a squeeze. That leaves no room for bullshit.

Facebook allows you to customize your posts with headlines, content, and images. Google+ is another medium for microblogging your way to better writing skills.These are large topics in themselves, so let me direct you to two bookmark worthy articles on CopyBlogger that explain how you can be a better writer on Twitter and also craft the perfect Google+ post.

Comment on Blog Posts

Blog comments

Don’t comment like a troll 4 Types of Blog Comments That Make You Look Like a Troll [Opinion] 4 Types of Blog Comments That Make You Look Like a Troll [Opinion] One of the most fascinating things about writing professionally on the Internet for nearly a decade now is the progression of "commenting" that has evolved alongside the blogosphere. I was first introduced to the whole... Read More . But…

Take the same new born pen skills to the best blogs you read. You read them so you know what they are talking about. Seed your ideas clearly and politely. Breakdown a successful blog post and study what made it compelling. Maybe, it was the headline that persuaded you to click it. Maybe, the magic was in the way it began. Long story short, there’s a lesson right there. Maybe, you can add something to it with your comment.

You get noticed. We do it here too.

A Cue With Instagram

Writing prompts

Take a chance with Instagram for some creative writing prompts 6 Places You Can Find Great Creative Writing Prompts 6 Places You Can Find Great Creative Writing Prompts Writing can be difficult, and it’s not only full-time writers who suffer from "writer’s block". Students have papers to write. Programmers have documentation to write. Teachers have curriculums to write. Marketing agents have advertisements to... Read More . It’s a wagon trail of ideas. Pick an Instagram photo, and try to imagine what the photographer was thinking when he or she took the snap. Attempt freewriting with a photo cue. You can cherrypick your topics with a hashtag search on Instagram. Imagining the story is your writing challenge.

Bring Out Your Anti-Social Skills

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Educators Joyce Stenneke and Nadia Kalman suggest a free rein to your “anti-social skills” when you are out and about. Eavesdropping and muttering to yourself helps you create fictional dialogs and the real life around you gives all the clues. Watch the TED video for the simple 3-step process.

Let Advertisements Persuade You

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Learning from ads to understand persuasion is a common writing exercise. Next time you are on YouTube, you can watch a few ads and later analyze which ads stick in your head. Maybe, they used the right mix of persuasive elements – ethos (ideal), pathos (emotion), and logos (data).

Play With Vocabulary

VLearn new words
Increasing your word riches is an obvious advice. But on the Web you can have fun with words. Knoword is a guess-the-word game that should help sharpen the brain and the tip of your tongue. Then, there are the other fun word games 8 Quick Online Word Games to Play With Your Vocabulary 8 Quick Online Word Games to Play With Your Vocabulary Read More too. Communicating well with simple words will also make you good writer…but don’t neglect your word-hoard. Use online games to learn new words when you have a few minutes to spare!

Cut Into The Ground With Research

With Google, you don’t have to wear your soles down. Thorough research is the spadework for good writing. Master the basic skill of web searching (remember: online search is more than using Google), and you will have the matter to shape your writing. Start by searching MakeUseOf.com for all the power search tips you can find if you think your digging needs some work.

Try Pleasure Reading

Active reading
You can’t escape this. Enjoy what you read and it stays with you. Be wide-ranging in what you read and engage with the content. One day, it will find a way into your writing. One of the takeaways from a good book is always the author’s focus on details. That’s the pole star for all great writing.

Read more than you write. Brainpickings.org is an excellent site for reading selective articles. It also has this little list of nine books on reading and writing.

The writing is on the wall. Are you doing enough to develop your writing, or is the skill lying comatose? Wake it up! Please give us your tips to develop the writing habit.

Image Credit: He teaches…; Blank paper (Shutterstock); JohnONolan (Flickr)

  1. Abhishek
    April 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for the reply, I like that line "More than writing, it is the habit of writing that’s important".

    • Saikat B
      April 7, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Best of luck with your journey. Go to any good blog, and search out their very first post. You will see that it wasn't the best article of all time :) But they just took the first step and took it from there.

  2. Abhishek
    April 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    This is the reason I like "makeuseof" so much...
    Interesting article
    btw @Saikat B
    how you started blogging and how you started writing for makeuseof.Actually I am thinking about writing articles but dont know where to start.... plz help

    • Saikat B
      April 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Well, this is my sixth year here and I am one of the oldies. It was definitely a serendipitous discovery...but as they chance favors the prepared mind. I was writing before I came to MUO, and thus it was a natural transition. My advice -- don't over-think. Just start. Starting a free personal blog is so easy. More than writing, it is the habit of writing that's important.

  3. Kavita S
    March 26, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Nice and inspiring

    • Saikat B
      March 26, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Glad it was helpful :)

  4. Rodrigo
    March 14, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Thank you, really useful.

  5. Guy M
    March 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Inspirational article, Saikat. At least now I can say that my muttering is enhancing my writing skills, not just a sign of early onset dementia.

    • Saikat B
      March 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks Guy. Be careful with the eavesdropping though :)

  6. Yaz C
    March 13, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    This is a great article! It's inspiring and quite educational. Thank you, Saikat. Cheers, mate!

  7. Anirudh PN
    March 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Classic :D Waking up early is a resolution I take everyday! Better get my shit together. Thanks :) Will let you know how it goes..

  8. Anirudh PN
    March 13, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    This is excellent Saikat. Thanks a ton. Now, if only I could squeeze in some time towards writing! Time management, I suck at it. 12 hrs of work and travel, all I'm left with is the other half of which much is spent on rest and rejuvenation. The little time I get in between I dream about movie direction, writing and then some actual reading [The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest] and watching movies. Advice?

    • Saikat B
      March 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      I would recommend that you write first thing in the morning. Our willpower tends to decrease as the day progresses. Heck, you can even write on your cell while traveling. There are loads of apps for that. Some of my best ideas come when I am stuck in one of India's famous traffic jams :)

  9. Smitty Werben J
    March 13, 2014 at 6:28 am

    As part of a personal project of mine, I've decided to give writing a try. I wanted to improve my communication skills and the first thing I thought about was writing. I found this article very convenient in showing me where to start. Who knows? Maybe I end up writing for MakeUseOf!

    • Saikat B
      March 13, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Sure. I started my writing life writing small news bytes! Start small, but just start. You will be surprised what momentum can do for you.

  10. Akshay Joshi
    March 13, 2014 at 4:25 am

    You told everything but you didn't told that how a writer can manage time. Please tell that how can we write more in less time.

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