January 3, 2015 by Kathryn Kuttis
Every time I think about writing something it triggers resistance. A voice in my head quickly says, “You can’t do this.” “You don’t even know how to spell.” Then a smaller voice whispers, “Maybe it’ll be good.”
We all have voices. It’s useful to notice which one is calling the shots. I try not to let the loud one (a scaredy-cat in disguise) decide what I’m going to do. In case of an emergency, the bossy loud voice would be helpful. “Move there’s a car coming!” But writing is not an emergency (unless you are on a deadline and leave it until the last second).
In my experience, the more you write the less you pay attention to the negative, self- limiting voice that says, “You can’t write.” We are all writers. But it takes courage and practice to develop your skills.
As a professional, if you can write well you can convey meaning with clarity and purpose while keeping your audience engaged. Strong written and verbal communication skills are highly valued, especially in a competitive marketplace where employers are looking for a way to distinguish you from a sea of other applicants.
Here are five things you can do to develop your professional writing skills:
1. Read more. Notice sentences that use only essential words to explain an issue.
2. Write everyday. Get the ideas in your head down your arm and onto the page.
3. Use social media to build your professional voice. Watch and listen, then tweet.
4. Be less precious. Write it down, walk away and then don’t be afraid to edit.
5. Consider your audience. What do they need to hear to understand your message?
Writing is a personal endeavor that can be empowering and defeating in the same day. Persistence is the key. Writing everyday can calm the critical voices and make the process less painful. It is a challenge for everyone. To be an effective writer and convey your ideas with clarity requires patience and practice.
One of the greatest pleasures I get from teaching is working with other writers. For those of you in my class this term, let’s help each other to write more even if the loud bossy voice inside says it’s a bad idea.