Now that the holidays are over and we no longer have an excuse to stuff ourselves with pie and watch television until we fall asleep (not that we're going to stop doing these things, mind; we just don't have an excuse anymore), many of us turn to New Year's resolutions to get ourselves in shape.
This year, why not give your writing a makeover? Here are four ways that better writing skills can improve your life:
Getting a New Job or a Promotion
Good written communications skills will serve you well no matter where you choose to go in your career, whether you want to climb the corporate ladder or find a new job. The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is an increasingly rare commodity, and no hiring manager has ever turned down an applicant because the cover letter was too well written. According to a recent study from Grammarly, fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions.
Gaining Confidence and Clarity
Laura Pepper Wu, writing for Forbes, recommends starting every morning with a nice, healthy "braindump." Her term for this type of free-writing session encourages writers to get out all of their nonsense on paper -- a practice she says "will leave you with a clear and sharp mind. You might also experience the added benefit in the form a boost in both productivity and creativity as a result."
Communicating Better with Friends and Family
The practice of putting words down on paper can help clarify your thinking and improve your critical reasoning skills. Before approaching a potentially difficult conversation with a loved one, try writing down what you want to say first. "Thoughts and feelings are nebulous happenings in our mind holes," writes Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, "but writing forces us to crystalize those thoughts and put them in a logical order."
Building a Positive Habit
The satisfaction of achieving a goal, even if it's just to blog twice a week for a year, is its own reward. "Just like going to the gym, I feel like writing is rewarding. When I finish a post or a short entry, I feel accomplished. It's simple. No one likes going the gym, but it's the feeling after that we all strive for. Writing is the same way. It leaves me accomplished," writes George Dy, Jr., for Lifehacker.
The easiest way to improve your writing skills is to practice. Start a blog or go old school and keep a journal. Write a novel or, if that's too daunting, a short story. It's best to write every day, or at least on a regular schedule, and you should plan on spending time editing your work and reading other writers as well. Instead of trying to edit as you go, let your writing rest and then look at it again after a day or two. Read it out loud and find where your prose stutters or meanders. If grammar isn't your forte, try using an automated proofreader to scan your text for errors and explains them - helping you to track your progress through the year.
Grammarly is an automated grammar checker that checks writing for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations. Connect with us on Facebook.