A conversation with Pat Wagner on ‘Writing Skills for Workplace Success,’ a hands-on program in which participants learn effective writing skills and put them into practice.
Can adults learn to write?
Yes. It can be developed through practice like any other skill. The problem is that adults with little writing experience come in with psychological barriers. Some have been called stupid by a parent or teacher, or their writing has been criticized in such a way as to scare them away from the whole process. Also, many people have an inflated view of what it means to be a writer. They assume that in order to write at all you have to be the best. It’s just not true. I made part of my living for 25 years as a professional writer. I wasn’t the best, but I was reliable, accurate, worked well with my editor, and I understood my audiences.
Can you be influential in your workplace without good writing?
It’s much harder. For better or worse, the people above you on the food chain are always looking at you, always judging, watching for talent and skills. The management in any company wants their employees to be able to express themselves well, and writing is a big part of that. In large, formal organizations employees are expected to communicate through memos, essays, reports, etc., and in these instances both good and poor writing stand out.
How can writing well advance your career?
I have competed with people for various gigs who were more qualified and experienced than me; I got the work because I was a better writer. Good writing will benefit people even if they aren’t on a career track. For example, a fry cook at a fast food restaurant might have a great idea. His supervisor says “I love it, write up a memo, and we’ll send it up the chain.” Being able to write well is key in such situations.
Gain confidence in your writing with Writing Skills for Workplace Success.
Quick tip: Practice, practice, practice.
Writers of all skill levels can benefit from the wealth of information at Purdue’s Online Writing Lab
Great grammar tips by Grammar Girl
The always useful Chicago Manual of Style