Before we dig into the nitty gritty of why writing well is really important, I’m going to get something out of the way. I think this is true for all of us: one of the most annoying things about school, whether it’s high school or college, online or traditional, is that you have to take classes you hate. For the most part, no matter where your natural skills align, no matter what your end goal is, there are some “general education” courses that we’re all required to slog our way through to get to where we really want to go. We all have our one subject that trips us up and scares us. For me, that’s math. Any math. All math. Numbers? I’m terrified of them. This is mostly because I can almost never make sense of them. I can figure out a 20% tip on a bill for dinner… with my iPhone. So, as an English major in college, being forced to take quantitative classes like Algebra or Statistics was a nightmare. If you’re a fan of the Jim Henson movie, Labyrinth, you probably are familiar with the Bog of Eternal Stench. Basically, this bog is a brackish, muddy, gross pit of despair that is almost impossible to cross without getting smelly… the smelly smell of the bog will then stick to you forever. That’s how I feel about math. It’s my Bog of Eternal Stench, that thing that needs to be crossed and conquered so I can get to my goal of defeating the Goblin King and rescuing my baby brother—or, more realistically, a career in writing.
Now that that is out the way and I finally got to use Labyrinth in a blog post, let’s talk about why writing well is important, even if you don’t want to be a writer.
You Write Every Day.
Guys, even if you don’t think of yourself as a writer, guess what? You’re writing something every day. You wrote an email to your coworker, your boss, your friend. You left a note for your significant other on the kitchen counter begging them to please, please do the laundry like they said they would two days ago. You’re texting, you’re tweeting, you’re ‘gramming (the cool way of saying I use Instagram a lot), you’re updating your Facebook status. And yeah, a lot of that is for personal use. You’re talking to friends and family, not someone who cares if you use a word incorrectly. BUT, people in the world are still seeing those things. With Facebook being a big deal these days, as well as other social media platforms, what you put out in the world can impact your professional life. Your resume and your experience could make you the perfect candidate for a position, but if the hiring manager checks out your profile (some of them do this, so be careful what you share and your privacy settings) and sees some not so great things, you might lose out on an opportunity.
On the other hand, if you work for a company and job you love, how well you write an email can impact how people think of you. Yes, we shouldn’t care what people think of us to an extent; but when you are emailing someone in your company (or the whole company, depending on the situation), grammar, syntax, spelling… that matters a lot! You could be ridiculously intelligent, capable, and wonderful, but poor written communication can hurt your work reputation.
You Need to be Able to Communicate Your Ideas.
You’re great at your job. You love what you do. You probably want to advance at work. Or, if you’re in school, you may want to get involved with different groups and organizations, make your mark and pad your resume. To do these things, you’re probably filling out endless applications, sending cover letters and inquiries and contacting your network. You need to be able to express what you’re looking for when you reach out. You need to be able to share your story and let others know what you’re thinking. It’s difficult to do that when you’re not sure if this word fits that sentence or if a comma goes here or there.
For those of you who aren’t a fan of writing, the fact that people spend time arguing about an Oxford Comma (my absolute favorite comma, by the way) is baffling. But, did you know that a business in Maine lost a court case because they didn’t use the Oxford Comma? I’m going to leave off with “it’s important” because I could write a whole post that is only an ode to this beloved comma of mine. The takeaway here is that knowing how to say something clearly in writing and where to dot the i’s and cross the t’s can make a difference in getting you where you want to go.
You Are Searching for a Job.
So, if you don’t think writing well is important, I’ll end on this note that we can all agree on. You probably want to get a job that you enjoy, that pays well, and that has opportunities for growth. You’re submitting your resume. You’re writing up cover letters. Copying perfect cover letter templates you found in a desperate Google search isn’t going to cut it every time. If you know enough about writing to feel confident about the words you’re typing, it’s going to be a bit of an easier process. You’ll still stress about getting that call, the one that asks you to come in for an interview and gushes over your previous experience, but if you can craft a concise and clear sentence you can write a great cover letter. You might not get the job every time, but you’ll be confident that you put your best text-foot forward.
You’ve gotten through this whole post and you’re still thinking “I hate writing. It’s terrible. And predictive text has got my back, anyway.” Well, okay. Writing and being a writer may be your personal Bog of Eternal Stench; it’s that boring, terrible thing you know you have to get through, even if you don’t want to try. But, if you’re stuck in that Bog looking for a rock to step on, there’s help to get you through it. I had a math tutor to get me through the most evil of subjects, Algebra, and we’ve got some wordsmiths here that can be your guide! Through The Writer's Block, you can get tips on cleaning up your writing, chat with tutors live, and even get some input on if you’re even going in the right direction with your research paper. You may not fall in love with writing, but with some encouragement and this handy-dandy writer’s resource, you’ll know how to do it well!