Writing is a crucial communication mode, as we write every day in different forms and languages to pass messages to specific audiences. Some people write in a conversational tone and come off as relatable, precise, understanding, and their points are as clear as day.
Unfortunately, some others are unable to pass their messages across clearly with the art of writing. This is because they have zero knowledge of the essential writing skills that exist.
While there’s definitely room to say that there are more writing skills, in this article I have outlined a list of crucial writing skills everyone should know. These are for everyone – not just us storytellers and bloggers.
Keep in mind that you’re not just writing for yourself but a specific receiver, reader, viewer as well. So it’s a two-way thing. Therefore, it is essential to communicate appropriately by putting yourself in your viewer/audience’s position or shoes. As you further analyze the tips we’ve provided, you will realize the importance of good writing skills.
And everyone will have different mileage with these skills, as not everyone will use each skill equally. That’s okay. That’s part of the beauty of writing – it’s so adaptable.
Why Are Good Writing Skills Important?
The purpose of good writing skills is to communicate clearly and effectively to an audience; communication is not complete without feedback, and feedback can not be given without a proper understanding of the message passed across to the readers.
Good writing skills help you communicate effectively through written words. Being able to summarize things, express an idea with descriptive words, deliver your opinion in a logical, precise manner, or whatever else you need to do helps you become the best writer in the field.
As a writer, you depend on words to get your points across, to persuade, evoke emotion, and influence your audience. And what happens when those words are not well-written? You lose your audience. There’s misunderstanding, disappointment, and the reader stops reading your words.
As for the feedback? Well, maybe your feedback comes in the form of a raise. Or if you’re a writer, then your feedback comes in the form of royalties paid from purchased copies of your books.
So these skills are important to everyone who’s ever had an email address or wanted to get a better job as well as anyone who wants to write something of substance.
Writing Skills Everyone Should Know
Ideally, everyone in a literate society should both understand and master these basic skills. These are skills that, as a homeschooling mom (yeah, it surprised me, too) I’m trying to make sure that my children have.
Because not only do I want them to be able to communicate with me, but also the whole world. We’re just focusing on English for now, though, because I can only focus on one language at a time.
Skill #1: Build sentences to fit their purpose
Knowing how to construct all kinds of sentences – complex sentences, imperative sentences, complex sentences, simple sentences, e.t.c is a crucial writing skill.
Sentences are writing’s most essential building blocks. They need to be adequately constructed to be understood. That’s why one of the first things to learn when writing is how to write a proper sentence.
I’m not saying that you need to learn to diagram every sentence. I am saying it helps.
Skill #2: Use proper punctuation
Punctuation is an essential aspect of structuring your writing in a way that makes sense. At least, that’s how it works in today’s world. So it’s important to know how to use it, when to use it, and when to throw the rules out the window.
I’m not saying that you need to write like James Joyce every time. I am saying that his book, Ulysses, probably enjoys extra fame and notoriety because he purposely ignored conventional punctuation rules.
However, if you don’t want to have to rely on your readers listening to audiobooks (or a professional reader) so that y our audience can understand you, then it’s important to use proper punctuation.
Skill #3: Know why reading comprehension is vital
To develop essential writing skills, you have to know how to read and understand what you’re reading.
Comprehensive reading encourages critical thinking when writing, helps you establish suitable writing styles, enables you to understand the meaning of words, and inserts them appropriately in your future writing.
Reading is also a fun way to learn new things, including new writing styles. So go pick up another book and read it. It’ll help you be a better writer and critical thinker. It’ll also teach you new words.
Oh, and read out loud from time to time. It’s always fun to learn how to pronounce the words you read, and getting feedback from an audience is a great way to make sure you’re learning how to pronounce things right. It’s also fun to mispronounce words from time to time (like when you’re teaching children to read!).
If you can’t read what you wrote? Then nobody else can, either. So read what you wrote – and analyze it. We call this process “editing.” 😉
Skill #4: Edit and proofread your way to better communication
The first draft of the writing will be filled with mistakes. Plan on it! The mark of a good writer is that they have a good editor. Or, that they’ve become their own best editor to streamline their words.
We often make errors and unintentionally include them in our work, and that’s completely normal. Writers are encouraged to go through their writing, edit out mistakes, and even rewrite if the need arises.
Write, rewrite, edit, and write it again. Make it better every time.
Tip #5: Practice makes perfect (or at least better)
You can’t improve at anything without practice. So practice your writing.
Thankfully, practicing writing is easy. You do it when you send an email, a text (well, depending on who you ask or if you’re using various slang, they may say that doesn’t count), writing an assignment, or whatever. It all counts.
So go practice.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering… I happen to think that texting is just its own little dialect. It definitely requires learning and practicing. Just don’t try using texting-ese on other platforms.
Tip #6: Simplify
Most people I know want to write things so that they sound smart. And, you know what? If you’re writing a scientific paper that’s probably a great idea.
As a side note, I once heard that trying to sound smart was called “waxing an elephant…” in a book because the main character (I swear it was Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer? Now I’m less sure) was trying to “wax eloquent” and well, it didn’t work so well.
So don’t go waxing any elephants. I’m going to assume they won’t like it.
Instead, err on the side of keeping things simple. Because if you can explain something to a 5-year-old? You can explain that thing to anyone.
Quit going fancy. Anyone can do that. Go simple and amaze everyone at how well you can communicate or teach anything.
Just don’t dumb things down so much that you’re talking down to your audience. Then you’re just being a condescending jerk – and everyone will know.
Writing Skills for Creative Souls
While there are a lot of important writing skills, this is going to be a quick birds’ eye view. Because these skills are important to all writing styles – unless you’re Gertrude Stein or another writer or poet who throws conventional writing rules out the window.
First, every creative soul needs to know the basic writing skills we outlined earlier in this article. Now, let’s add a few more.
Tip #1: Read
Seriously. Read a ton. The most creative people I know are voracious readers.
Tip #2: Read more
After reading a particular piece of writing, read it a second (or sixteenth) time. This way, you can break down everything, pick out puzzle pieces, understand each of them individually, and understand how it makes you feel and affects your thoughts and emotions. This is how you learn to see why a writer chose the words, sentences, phrases, characters, themes, and ideas that they did. And it’ll inspire you to do better, too.
Tip #3: Daydream
As a creative writer, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of daydreaming. According to bestselling award-winning author Neil Gaiman, the best ideas are gotten from daydreaming.
This is where you create a world entirely out of the one you live in and install far-fetched scenarios into it. It might not make sense at first, but you will possess the ability to create out-of-the-box content with continuous practice.
Creative writing is every form of narrative writing – poetry, articles, scriptwriting, novel writing, character development, dialogue writing, and more. Creative writing is used in telling stories while simultaneously passing a message across and stretching the viewers’ imagination.
It is an avenue for self-expression and designing entertainment. This is the essential skill you can ever learn, but it’s not the easiest as it is broad and covers many areas.
Business Writing Skills
Business writing is simply about constructing clear, direct, and specific messages in a formal tone with the most efficiency. It’s all about getting the point across so that everyone can get back to work.
Sometimes, it’s also about eliminating those extra meetings. You know the ones I mean – the ones that could have been summed up in a few sentences via email. But that only works when people have stellar business writing skills.
So let’s improve those writing skills and eliminate those extraneous meetings.
Tip #1: Be direct
Avoid beating around the bush. With most business writing,* you don’t have to warm up your readers at all. All you need to do is get to the point and avoid being passive.
Tip #2: Avoid slang and offensive words:
In a formal setting, your readers are potential clients, coworkers, customers, and not your friends or fan base. Avoid using clichés and potentially offensive curse words. It is not generally seen as acceptable In business writing.
Tip #3: Temper your enthusiasm
One of the rules of business writing is to write to express and not to impress. In a business environment, you have to be formal and, at the same time, avoid using complex and sophisticated languages in your work.
This doesn’t mean your writing shouldn’t have a conversational and polite tone, as you don’t want to come off as rude and snobbish.
Tip #4: Use jargon and abbreviations as indicated
Not everyone will need you to explain that the AAP is the American Academy of Pediatrics rather than the American Academy of Podiatry (I don’t actually know if that’s real, but it sounds cool, doesn’t it?). If you aren’t sure that your audience knows the jargon, define it once early on in the writing. And only use it if it’s appropriate.
*Okay, so some business writing is in advertising and marketing. Those writers will have to warm up their audience if they want to make a sale.
Writing Skills for Employees
In a workplace environment, you must communicate with clients, coworkers, customers, and diverse people. Most time,s your job description would include writing emails, memos, letters, newsletters, proposals, reports, and whatever else.
With the advancement of technology, you would need to type these documents clearly and formally. So here are writing skills every employee you should know:
Skill #1: Learn to research
In a workplace environment, you may be required to do thorough research on company, organization, or business tasks. Much of what it entails is sourcing quality information from many materials and sources online. This is an excellent skill for people in the working field.
Plus, it’s just a good life skill. This is learning on steroids.
Skill #2: Practice Time management
Every task comes with a deadline in a workplace; managing time and meeting deadlines is an important writing skill.
You are required to deliver fast and effectively. It is crucial to be able to plan and time yourself. So learn your own pace – and use that to make sure you get tasks done on time. And to manage expectations at how quickly you can (or can’t) get a job done.
Skill #3: Documentation is key
Seriously. If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. I learned that as a nurse, and it relates to pretty much every field.
Even in creative writing, documentation is key. Only, in that case, we call it “cannon.” Because if the book doesn’t say it? It’s up to the fans and their theories. So if you don’t want it to be left up to pure speculation, say it. Well, fine. Write it. Have it in the story.
And then know that your readers will probably still speculate anyway.
Skill #4: Editing is still vital
Editing is an essential writing skill employees need; they must deliver flawless, error-free work. It mainly involves checking the content of your work and ensuring there are no grammatical and logical errors from your end before submitting it.
Seriously. Edit. Any time you think you’ve found a good writer? Nope. You found a good editor who helped a writer hone their story.
In some cases, the writers learn great editing skills and then they can do it by themselves. Those are the authors and writers who can do amazing things – and so that’s what you need to aim for.
Now, as an employee, you don’t need to edit as Brandon Sanderson does. So instead, find your level – and go with that.
Practical Writing Skills for Writers (and Bloggers)
Whether you want to be an author, a blogger, a writer, or just someone who writes? These tips are for you.
Tip #1: Butt in chair, hands on keyboard
Seriously. Get in the chair and start typing. Type every day.
Don’t like to type? Fine. Get a pencil (or pen) and a notebook. Write every day. Learn to live with hand cramps.
I’ve also heard this saying with a different word for “backside.” Pick your favorite word and go with it – as long as you’re sitting in the chair and writing.
Pick a word count (or a time limit) and go for that. Start there. Not sure what to start with? Write for five minutes each day.
Over time, you’ll find that you sat down to write for five minutes – and that was a few hours ago.
That may not seem like a lot right now – but over time? It adds up. For me, two hours a day spent blogging over two years sounded like insanity when I planned it. But when I finished that first two years? I’d built 5 blogs, written several stories, and started multiple YouTube channels.
Oh, and I’d gotten an Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future. So I think I’ll take my own advice and keep going.
Tip #2: Read a lot in your niche
To be a good blogger or writer, you need to read a lot in your field. By reading regularly, you become up to date on topics in your niche. This also opens doors for you to observe what your competitors are up to and for you to upgrade your writing style.
Reading a lot will help you in other ways, too. Each writing style has its own tropes or stereotypes.
Food bloggers who tell insanely long stories before giving me the recipe, I’m looking at you.
Find ways to subvert those tropes and stereotypes. It’ll help your writing seem fresh, original, and amazing.
And just give me the recipe. That’s really all I’m there for. If I want the history of it? I’ll read that later.
Tip #3: Create feedback avenues
Getting feedback from fellow bloggers and your audience helps you put your best foot forward every time you post a blog.
Your best critics are people who read your work so, opening doors to their feedback enables you to give your audience what they need and also helps you improve your writing techniques.
For bloggers, the best way to create a feedback avenue is to join a mastermind group.
Finding one isn’t always easy. I found mine by joining Project 24 – and then by asking a bunch of people if they’d like to chat about our work.
Actually, I did that several times. It was the third group that finally stuck. They’re some of my favorite people ever.
For writers, the best way to get a feedback avenue is by joining a writing group.
There are usually writing leagues that offer local chapters to serve as your writing group. Or join National Novel Writing Month – and they can hook you up with a writing group. A third way to find a group is by going to a writing conference. You’re sure to find amazing people there, too.
Tip #4: Believe in yourself
Passion drives you to do better each time, and the key to a successful blog is having confidence in yourself and your content. Implementing every writing skill in the world won’t be effective if you have zero faith in your ability to deliver excellent blog posts.
You can do this. But only if you follow tip #5.
Tip #5: Be patient
Writers are very rarely a true overnight success. Instead, most writers (and bloggers) who seem like overnight successes are actually those who put in many years of effort – and overnight, all that work paid off.
So don’t try to take any shortcuts. Be patient. Put in the work. And keep improving your craft.
Key Takeaways on Writing
Writing is unavoidable, and we’re all going to be writing for most of our lives, so why not do it effectively? Mastering and implementing the writing tips we provided is guaranteed to help you improve significantly in any field of writing you partake in.
It’s going to be a lot of work. And a lot of it is nitty-gritty, punctuation, and grammar details that you’d probably rather not learn. But teaching my children how to diagram sentences? I’m surprised at how much I’m learning from the experience, too.
So get in the trenches, put in the work, and show the world (and me!) what you can do. I’m excited to read it when it’s ready.
But before you go, go give this a read next. It’s something I’ve been working on as a writer, and am super proud of how it’s helped my growth as a writer come faster. Go give it a read.
Cite this article as: “The 22 Most Important Writing Skills Of All Time.” Kimberly C. Starr, 20 September 2021, kimberlycstarr.com/the-22-most-important-writing-skills-of-all-time/.
When learning about anything, it’s important to learn from a wide variety of reputable sources. These are the sources I used in this article and in my personal research to be more informed.
- Writers of the Future Online Workshop. https://www.writersofthefuture.com/register/online-workshop/.
- Project 24 by Income School: Blogging courses, insights, and classes: https://incomeschool.com/.
- The League of Utah Writers – and the Writer’s Hi (my writing group).