Masters of the industry and most graduates are failing to realise their full potential because of a lack of excellent writing skills. The curriculum for post-secondary education in many disciplines does not incorporate writing skills for business and social communication, which is the key to unlock connections for sustainable development.
Everybody requires superb writing skills in his or her daily life for survival. Think of writing an engaging resume or job application, email, school assignment or examination, business proposal or report, business or love letter, manual or standard operating procedure, research paper, article or book. All require the art of craft writing.
People write for many reasons, but chief among them is to add value and enrich people’s lives. Writers write to educate, mentor, teach, help, serve, motivate, and influence their audience, but in the process comes to mediocre or excellent writing. This article is the roadmap to becoming one of the best writers in the world.
The writing process is a personalised and unique operation; what works for one author may not work and vice versa. There is no one size fits all formula. This article, however, covers all the things you must do or not do to transform your aspiration into excellent writing.
Roadmap to becoming one of the best writers in the world:
1. Write using a grammar checker.
The best way to become an expert writer is to learn by researching and practising to write regularly. A grammar checker serves as a digital writing assistant tool. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a ‘grammar checker’ as: “a feature that finds grammatical errors.”
For excellent writing, I advise that you use Grammarly Checker, the best writing assistant in the world. Grammarly helps you to identify and correct; grammatical errors, spelling errors, and punctuation errors. Also, it helps to fix improper sentence structures, typo errors, and wrong tone usage. You get advanced suggestions of the perfect words to express your mind and get help to eliminate misuse of tricky, commonly confused words, whose use largely depends on the context, for example, sheep and ship.
The good thing about Grammarly is that it has both free and paid options, and can be used: across the web, across multiple devices (cellphones, tablets, and computers), on both Windows and macOS apps, and with Microsoft Office. There are internet browser extensions for use with the widely used internet browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. For information on how to install Grammarly on Chrome; How to install Grammarly on Firefox; How to install Grammarly on Edge, please click on these hyperlinks. For your mobile convenience, you have an option to download the Grammarly keyboard on either Google Play or Apple Store. The Grammarly keyboard will ensure excellent writing on every app on your mobile device, be it conventional text messaging, chatting on social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, email writing, or writing a business proposal or article.
2. Plan and follow a writing schedule.
Plan a writing schedule and observe it by the heart. Treat writing as part of your daily routine or a new job. Consider your audience as your masters to serve to their taste. Treat them as if you have a contractual obligation to meet.
Don’t get consumed by the writer’s block. If you find yourself out of words and lacking the thrust to keep writing, then you should edit, and if you lack the energy to edit, plan for extra writing activities. The goal is to meet scheduled deadlines. Do not plan unreasonable schedules; at least you find yourself sacked by the diminishing law of returns because thinking efficiency gradually decreases with time until a stage when there is no value addition to any effort put.
If you are employed elsewhere or enrolled at a university or college, be very careful to plan a schedule that accommodates both activities without compromising the other.
3. Write with your audience in mind.
When writing, consider the needs of the consumers of your work and write to meet their expectations. Do not write to satisfy your interest, but focus on the end-users. End-user’s evaluation and acceptance of your work matter the most. Poor writers put their principal focus on the subject instead of the reader. Always keep reminding yourself of the chief aim of your work and remain focused.
If your audience is public, then use simplified language that requires minimum effort to understand. However, if writing for expects, you may be flexible to show your knowledge of the subject. Also, consider if writing a formal, informal or neutral document. The formal document should never incorporate colloquialism and slang language. Traditional writing for academic purposes requires that you write in the third person, with all references clearly stated, but may relax the obligations when writing for business or general-purpose. The restrictions do not apply on an informal hand.
Master the attributes to sell your idea to the reader, just as marketers advertise to sell their products. It will help if you persuade readers to continue reading by addressing their problems or concerns and outlining how to achieve their dreams. Author John C. Maxwell wrote a book, “Everybody Communicates, Few Connect,” so write to communicate and connect with the reader. Think of visual aid to help explain your idea, if possible. Always put clear and informative captions to convey the intended message.
Use the active voice. Avoid using passive voice. An active agent attributes the verb to the noun, acting directly. Worth noting is that people read for their benefit, not your business or personal profile, so anything which speaks directly to them is ideal for drawing their attention.
4. Simplify your vocabulary.
When writing, we use words to communicate our inspired thoughts, so choose the familiar term over the obtuse. Keep your work simple, clear, and easy to comprehend. Avoid unnecessary jargon that makes your work complex to understand, why using big tricky words when there are smaller and common phrases that produce the same meaning. Be natural and create a conversation with the reader. To achieve this, I suggest you proofread with Grammarly before you conclude and send out your work. Just a reminder, you will not be available to explain your work to every reader. Your work should suffice to speak your voice in your absence. Imagine billions that an investor could lose if he or she cannot write a good marketing article for an invention or scores that a student could lose for failing to communicate his or her knowledge to the examiner.
5. Do not plagiarise.
Avoid plagiarism. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the verb plagiarise as: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source” or “to commit literary theft: present as new an idea or product derived from an existing source”.
Types of plagiarism, include word-for-word transcription or direct plagiarism, paraphrasing, accidental plagiarism, mosaic plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and collusion, to mention but a few. Plagiarism is fraud involving both stealing and lying. To keep your work safe, be honest, and acknowledge every source you borrow information. Try by all means to desist from the habit of copying and pasting. You can do better than this, thanks to the Grammarly Plagiarism Checker, which helps you to detect plagiarism, duplicate content and other writing matters privately. If you go premium, you can even get information on areas which require citation and the resources needed to credit the sources.
6. Put value addition in your work.
Writers do not write to reinvent the wheel, but to complement the existing body of knowledge. What determines your ability to withstand the competition is the content value or depth of information in your work and how you present it. To be on top of the rank, you need to understand your audience first, who they are, and base information they know in your subject area. This information will guide you in terms of information depth or amount of supplementary information to include. Think of how your audience will benefit after reading your work. For instance, a business article may include where, when, and how to get cheap but quality products, how to reduce expenditure, how to increase profit margin and how to keep a business from litigation. Motivate the reader with benefits, as politicians do to win an election. They sell an idea or plan they want citizens to support or execute.
7. Use gender-neutral language.
Your writing should be inclusive. Avoid gender inclined words that were used dominantly in patriarchal societies when gender stereotyping ruled the world. Back then, men were the only breadwinners, hence the use of names with suffix man, for example, cameraman, policeman, and weatherman. These days, there is no job you find without both sexes. You are therefore obliged to use gender-neutral language, for example, you may use a camera person instead of a cameraman, a police officer for a policeman, and meteorologist for the weatherman. Using a balanced gender will not only make your work gender-balanced but also accurate. When the sentence structure requires the use of gender-specific language, you may use pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘she’, but if not, you may choose pronouns such as ‘they’.
8. Organise your work.
Organise your information into a flowing organisation structure, for example, in a case study; you can first introduce the background to the problem, state the problem and how it is affecting citizens, and then proffer solutions or recommendations.
Write with the outlook of the end product in mind. Research and outline your work showing where you are going before you start unless you are a pantsers (a writer who does not plan but write by the process of discovery). Always strive to break information into small coherent segments with visible headings and subheadings, to easy navigation and consolidation by the readers. To achieve this, you may consider bolding, underlining, using italics or a different colour. For elements which require listing, use numbered features in a list when the order is essential, or bullets if the order is not crucial. Avoid overuse of these because they distort the outlook of your work and make it monotonous. Consider putting long lists at the bottom of your work in the appendix section to keep the document flowing.
Keep the document components as short as possible, yet capturing all the pertinent information. Complex sentences are prone to grammatical errors. Omit needless or subtle redundancies. Also, avoid writing very long paragraphs. Long paragraphs intimidate and drive away the reader’s interest to keep reading. There is also the risk of writing incoherent information which compromises the integrity of the section and the document.
9. Be patient.
It is rare to hear of a newbie breaking news headlines for writing a million-seller book on his or her first trial. It is like winning a lottery. When compared to other arts, writing is a unique process because it takes time to become established, and you often work solo without moral from fans. You usually get your rewards after publishing many times. Musicians, dancers, visual artists, and actors can smoothly perform because of real-time stimulus from fans shouting “well-done bravo, more of this, please.” To sharpen your skills and build followers, consider starting with small pieces of work, such as blogs, articles, newsletters, and journals before embarking on massive projects such as writing a novel or book. Don’t quit your routine work until your writing income is at least 3 or 4 times your average salary. Doing so will ensure the availability of a regular income to keep you afloat while slowly building your lifetime investment.
10. Be part of a supportive team.
Effective teamwork is vital. Avoid working solo throughout; you need the expertise of someone to complement your writing skills. Working as part of an active community ensures you get the support to keep yourself motivated. The team help to keep you writing when faced with destructive criticism, discouragement or frustration. It rejuvenates you when your energy is low to the extent of wanting to quit writing. The team also helps you to keep deadlines and stay focused, because when working solo, there is a tendency to procrastinate and relax on maintaining schedules. You can register as an author to join the RCIEEN writing community.
11. Develop your core values.
Develop and practice guidelines that define your root beliefs, who you are, what you stand for, what influence your decision making, and so on. Aspire values such as honestness, accuracy, dependability, reliability, consistency, openness, and respect to earn audience trust. Fire, commitment, perseverance, patience, confidence, courage and spirit of adventure is what you always need to grow.
Learn to understand your core-values by heart and put them into practice. For instance, you can practice consistency by adopting a writing style for font type and size, headings, symbols, bullets, indents, and abbreviations. You can also practice by disciplining yourself to write and publish at a specific frequency, say for instance, daily, weekly or every fortnight.
Excellent writing is a skill that takes much effort to develop. Your creativity and ability to attract a reader’s attention is all that distinguishes outstanding work from the competition. To be an excellent writer, plan to write an engaging conversation with the reader, using simple natural language which speaks to both men and women alike. For best results, install Grammarly Grammar Checker, Grammarly plagiarism Checker, and Proofread by Grammarly always. Also, organise your work and ensure value-addition. Last, find a writing community to work with, always research, read a lot and practise the art of excellent writing.
Lao-tzu, a Chinese philosopher, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So do not wait, register as an author for free with RCIEEN’s writing community. Also, start using Grammarly to perfect your writing skills.
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