Developing Professional Writing Skills

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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As clearly as we're in the midst of an information age, developing professional writing skills is worth every bit of time and effort you put into it. It doesn't matter what field you're in and what position you hold. You might be an analyst with a nonprofit foreign policy think tank, or a university conference coordinator, or an advertising consultant, for example. Becoming a clear and effective communicator will pay off personally as well as professionally.

Statistics, for once, bear out common sense as far as developing professional writing skills being decisive to your career is concerned. More than 80 percent of Fortune 1000 executives in a recent survey, for example, reported that they routinely ruled out candidates for a job position who had grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors in their applications. Fully 99 percent of them used writing skills as a deciding factor in promotions.

Steps to Developing Professional Writing Skills

If you prefer formal programs, you'll find plenty of full-fledged programs on developing professional writing skills at local universities and continuing education schools--from MBA specialties in communications to MFAs in journalism or general writing. You don't need to take that committed and costly of a route, however. There are just as many more informal options available online.

The fact is, honing up on grammar and punctuation and spelling is something you can address on your own. Some of the reading is highly entertaining as well as instructive. Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a good example. So-called one-page cheat sheets, of course, are always useful quick references, as are guides to the more egregious grammar and punctuation errors, and style and usage tips. Developing a writing style that's particularly geared to banking, engineering, education, or any other profession takes a bit more focus. It's worth looking at books like Joseph Williams' Style: Toward Clarity and Grace in combination with other sources.

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