I had a funny incident happen the other day: I was talking with a very nice woman who asked what I did and I explained that Hurley Write develops and teaches writing courses. She shook her head in dismay and said, “I’m glad that someone does that! My children’s penmanship has gone to the dogs!” I laughed because this isn’t the first time that a well-meaning, intelligent person has misunderstood what it means to write. This begs the question: do you understand the difference between “writing” and “writing?”
Writing as a Secondary Task
Many workplace professionals who are also tasked with writing view the writing they have to do as part of their jobs as secondary to their “real” job. Like it or not, however, the writing that we do as part of our jobs, whether we’re explaining how to complete a task, relaying our findings, or explaining what we did in the lab, is a primary part of our jobs, which is why we should understand the difference between “writing” and “writing.”
Sure, we’re all capable of opening our favorite program, Microsoft Word (or Notepad for those less fortunate) and churning out several pages of stream of consciousness drivel, and sure, I guess you could qualify that as “writing.” But we know it is not. You do, and so do we.
Writing Requires Critical Thinking
Writing is simply not the ability to be able to put words onto a page; as intelligent people, we’re all capable of that. Writing is a skill that requires deep thinking and lots of practice (and yes, how to write effectively can be learned). But if we view writing as a task that asks us merely to put some ideas on paper and not worry about it’s organized or who will read it and why, we’ve probably missed the point. Real writing takes thought, time, and analysis; things that most of us probably ignore because we simply want to “get it done.” And, to be frank, many of us devote less time than we should to our writing because we think “Hey, someone is just going to edit it for me anyway.” So, why should you care about your writing? Simple.
Poor writing affects you in a number of ways, most importantly, in your career.
Communication Skills and your Job
Need proof? Mike Sisco, author of IT Management 101 , says, “I cannot emphasize enough how much solid communication skills can mean to you. Effective communication skills are real career differentiators.” And a survey by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) suggests that “67% of HR Managers said they would hire an administrator with strong ‘soft’ skills – which include communication skills—even if his technical abilities were lacking.”
Think carefully about how you approach your writing tasks: do you view them as work you can’t wait to finish with or as opportunities to shine? If the former, you may wish to rethink what writing is and how you can use it to show your colleagues and others that you understand the difference between writing and writing.
Email us and let us know your approach to workplace writing tasks.