Let me preface this entire article by calling out my own bias.
I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years developing the skill of writing. I published books, articles, and newsletters that have reached tens and even hundreds of thousands of readers. To top it all off, the word “writer” is in the URL of this website.
So yes, I very much believe that writing is one of the most valuable skills anyone can develop. Furthermore, as we become an increasingly digital society, I think the importance will only rise.
But, you must first identify why writing is important to you.
The type of writing matters
I’m going to dissect the skill of writing into two large, generalized buckets going forward.
- For personal development.
- For professional growth.
We'll get into the specifics of each below. For now, it's important to highlight that different purposes lead to different results.
On the one hand, I've met a number of writers who enjoy writing for fun but are upset they've never made any money at it. On the other, I personally know a dozen writers who earn 7-figures annually from their work — mainly because they've treated it like a business from day one.
Writing is essential, but some types of writing are more valued than others. And some contexts value the same types differently. Be honest about what you’re after. The rest of this article will help you do that.
Writing is key for personal development
There are at least 4 categories in which the skill of writing can help you live a more effective life.
- It can help you develop critical thinking skills as you learn to comprehend problems and communicate solutions.
- It encourages you to become more organized since you have to arrange thoughts in a chronological or coherent way to write well.
- It pushes you to explore your creativity through fiction or nonfiction work and opens your brain to new possibilities.
- It can be the basis for starting or rebuilding meaningful relationships through letters, notes, and other one-to-one forms of written communication.
Whether or not you have any ambitions to pursue a career in writing, everyone can benefit from at least one of the four categories above. These are free from comparison or public scrutiny.
The only purpose of each is to become a better, happier, more effective version of the person you already are. No expectation. No pressure. Just words on paper moving you forward.
Writing is essential for career growth
Over the last few years, most of my writing energy has gone towards professional development.
I started to see how this skill could help me achieve many of the work goals I had set for myself. These included earning a specific figure per year and having the freedom to work 100% remotely. Thankfully, I've more than met those initial milestones and am optimistically reaching for what's next!
As you think about the direction you'd like your career or entrepreneurial journey to go, here are a few items to keep in mind.
- Writing is the foundation for every medium: speeches, videos, podcasts, etc. Writing well will help you create, edit, and promote everything else you produce.
- A blog or newsletter can be the basis of building your personal brand — a practical way to stand out from the competition (or other job candidates).
- Freelance writing can be a safety net during layoffs or career transitions as well as a way to supplement your regular income.
- Ultimately, writing is an amplification tool. People who write get noticed, promoted, and build a network of trust that can be leveraged at any time.
4 easy ways to improve your writing skills
Hopefully, you’re slightly more convinced of the value of writing well. Whether you want to improve this skill for personal or professional reasons, I wanted to leave you with a few concrete ways to go about it.
- Transcribe great writing. Find an article or a book passage you love, and type it out word-for-word. This will give you a visceral sense of what it feels like to write at that level.
- Practice in public. Humans write differently when we know another person will read it. Use this to your advantage by starting a blog or emailing friends you’ve lost contact with. Every “published” sentence will make you a better writer.
- Ask for feedback. Joining a writer's group may be too intimidating for most new people. An easier step is to ask your manager, coworker, or spouse for edits on something you've written. Also, start small – with a paragraph or two, because asking someone to edit your mini-manuscript (especially strangers!) is irksome.
- Read good books. Every great writer I know is a voracious reader. I recommend checking out this article on how to choose great books.
Write for an audience of one
If I can leave you with one idea about what makes writing important, it's this: Write for yourself.
Regardless of the goals you're after or the assignments stacking up, make sure you can stand behind every word you send out into the world. That you take time to share your real self. And remember, the only requirement to call yourself a writer is to write.