In a survey by Communispond Inc. almost 90% of the executives interviewed agreed that although good writing skills are essential to productivity and career advancement, writing is one of the most neglected skills in the business world. The majority described their own writing skills as fair or poor and three-quarters said they tolerate or hate to write.
If you're working alone from home, you may have to do more writing than you're used to doing ¾ and you may hate doing it, or at least be very insecure about your writing skills. And maybe this insecurity is also keeping you from doing something you really want to do, like write a book, return to school, or expand your business.
Like anything else, writing comes easier for some people than for others. Once you understand the steps to the process, however, writing can be much less of a chore. You'll be able to concentrate on the content of what you're writing rather than how to get the words on paper or computer screen.
Let's start by looking at several writing rules under which you may be living. Are they all true?
- I have to start at the beginning. If you feel that you must have the perfect opening line before you can start writing, you may never start it. Because the opening of any piece is so important, it is often the last thing that most writers write - after they know what their piece is really about.
- My first attempt has to be perfect. Not only will your first draft not be perfect, it may take several drafts to become close to perfect. Writing is re-writing in which the piece improves with each new draft.
- It's best just to start writing and see what happens. No. It's best to understand the writing is a six-step process. If you know the steps in the correct order, writing will become much easier and save you time, energy, and stress.
- I don't have to worry about spelling and punctuation - my computer or somebody else will take care of that. I wish I could say this is true, but nobody is going to do this part for you. The mechanics of writing are your responsibility. Not only do spelling and punctuation count, so do usage (is it to , too , or two ?) and grammar (when do I use I, and when do I use me ?). Your computer can help - if you know how to use your spell and grammar checkers effectively - and in future columns I'll help you understand how to deal with these writing bugaboos.
In my next article I will present the whole six-step process, then I'll go into each step in detail.