The Art of Writing: Why It’s Important

Posted on March, 2024

Introduction

This article will reveal why writing is still an important skill for anyone to improve and master.

The Importance of Basic Writing Skills

Acquiring basic writing skills is crucial in everyday life. From composing emails, whether personal or in business life, to leaving someone a memo or a note, writing takes centre stage.

The main aim of writing is to persuade, inform or entertain.

Although all three aspects of writing are related, I would say that basic writing skills help people persuade and inform others. For instance, filling out a form correctly provides key information to the reader. Writing a letter of complaint informs someone of an issue/s and persuades the reader to take action.

Even writing a CV informs a hiring manager that you can do the job, and persuades them to bring you in for an interview.

Whenever I hire a tutor, I look for 5 key attributes in their communication, some of which are related to their writing skills:

  1. Do they comprehend the job listing?
  2. Can they write grammatically and with minimal spelling mistakes?
  3. Is their academic record strong (in a tutor position, this is important)?
  4. Is their CV organised on the page?
  5. Is their experience relevant to the position?

Why should I care about these basic spelling and punctuation errors? As it is so easy these days to check for mistakes, spelling and grammar, not fixing the basics demonstrates something about their level of care. In most roles, the employer appreciates when candidates can put a level of care into the work. Sometimes those small details make the difference.

Writing for Different Audiences

Psychological and Physiological Benefits of Writing

Aside from the obvious communicative benefits of writing, a great deal of scientific research shows both the psychological and physiological benefits of writing.

In a 2005 study (Baikie and Wilhelm) on university students, the psychological benefits of writing about traumatic events in their lives included improved affect (ability to feel emotions appropriately), reduced stress,  fewer depressive symptoms, fewer post-traumatic intrusion symptoms (flashbacks of traumatic events), etc.

In the same study, there were also social and behavioural benefits such as reduced absenteeism, higher grade point averages, improved sports performance, improved memory, and quicker re-employment after job loss. Some of these findings were self-reported, and some were more objectively measured.

There are, however, many other studies where similar benefits were discovered. These studies include Pennebaker & Graybeal (2001), Greenberg & Stone (1992), Lepore & Smyth (2002), etc.

“Significant benefits have also been found for such objective outcomes as students’ grade point average… absenteeism from work…. re-employment after job loss…. working memory…and sporting performance… In addition, writing about emotional topics changed the way that participants interacted with others, suggesting that writing may also have an impact on objectively assessed social and linguistic behaviour”. 

The study also revealed that there were significant physiological benefits such as improved liver function, reduced blood pressure, improved lung function, and improved immune response.

There probably is some degree of variability from participant to participant. Still, it is fairly clear from the scientific literature that there are benefits which accrue to those who engage in expressive writing.

But what about those who aren’t necessarily traumatised? What various everyday benefits translate to us if we do not carry traumas? Advanced cognition and improved critical thinking skills are possible benefits. In a 2007 study by Quitadamo & Kurtz, it was found that students who wrote about their lab findings instead of merely taking a quiz on their lab findings improved their analytical skills.

Jordan Peterson reveals the power of writing in this short clip:

Peterson compares the act of writing with thinking. Learning to write, is to him, the same as learning how to think. Whilst I do not agree with this exact equivalence; I could imagine a person unable to write yet capable of great thought.

For instance, the Great Philosopher, Socrates was clearly capable of deep thought but may have not been able to write. Similarly, as far as we are aware, the great poet, Homer, was probably unable to read or write, yet composed the Odyssey and Iliad in the oral tradition.

Nonetheless, without someone writing down the works of these great men, there would be no evidence of their genius.

Making Money with Writing

Although writing skills are usually complementary to any role, there are some jobs where writing takes centre stage. Some of these career paths can be lucrative.

For instance, blogging for SEO is one of the most important writing jobs that the Internet age has created. Although it has many technical aspects to it such as keyword research, graphic and web design, etc, the job mainly revolves around researching and writing the content.

It is possible to monetise blogs in many ways including placing ads on your site, creating products and services for your visitors, using affiliate product links, etc.

The Ultimate Creative Writing Workout!

5 Quick Tips on How to Improve Your Writing

Here are 5 quick tips on how to improve your writing:

1. Engage in Writing Meets and Get Peer Feedback

While studying for my undergraduate degree at Birmingham, I joined a university society called Writer’s Bloc. Every week we would meet and engage in writing tasks together.

This practice of meeting together provided a great incentive for us to write something each week. We would take time presenting what we had written and could gain feedback on our writing from others.

Furthermore, it made the process of writing more engaging as we spent time with like-minded people with whom we shared a passion. This environment pushed us all to the limits of our ability and forced us to take criticism. Taking criticism is an important part of growth.

2. Planning

Most students do not spend enough time thinking through their ideas. Planning is an important part of the writing process. Spend 5 minutes or so, even just structuring a story, description, or any other piece of writing, will always help you create a more cohesive and clearer final product.

3. Proofreading

If you’re writing on paper, it’s always a good idea to check through and make some quick edits on whatever you’ve written. I always tell students to read through and check their work carefully to bring it up to standard – why make avoidable mistakes? If you’re typing a lot, there are so many programs that can help you fix your grammar and punctuation such as Grammarly. There aren’t many excuses now for making small errors in writing. Some tools can even help you establish the tone of your writing and change it.

4. Reading More

Improving the amount and range of your reading helps you become a stronger writer. I’ve always said to students that what you write is often a product of your range of experiences, knowledge of the world, and wider reading. Wider reading can improve your grasp of writing styles, and help you introduce engaging ideas and anecdotes into your writing. It can also expose you to a greater range of expressions and vocabulary. This will help you use more interesting vocabulary in your writing.

5. Use more Figurative Writing

We learn a lot about creative writing techniques at Redbridge Tuition and in school. These techniques include metaphors, similes, personification, pathetic fallacy, pathos, and so on. Yet, how often do we employ these techniques in our day-to-day lives? Analogies are also great to use as they help the reader understand more abstract ideas through down-to-earth examples.

Conclusion

In conclusion, writing remains an indispensable skill, offering not only communicative benefits but also significant psychological and physiological advantages. Regardless of one’s profession, honing writing skills can lead to improved cognition, critical thinking, and even financial opportunities.

By following simple yet effective strategies such as engaging in peer feedback, meticulous planning, thorough proofreading, extensive reading, and incorporating figurative language, individuals can elevate their writing proficiency and unlock its myriad benefits. So, whether it’s crafting a compelling narrative, expressing complex ideas, or enhancing personal well-being, investing in writing skills is a worthwhile endeavour with far-reaching rewards.

Bibliography

  • Baikie KA, Wilhelm K. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. 2005;11(5):338-346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338
  • LeporeS. J. & SmythJ. M. (eds) (2002The Writing Cure: How Expressive Writing Promotes Health and Emotional Well-beingWashington, DCAmerican Psychological Association.
  • PennebakerJ. W. & GraybealA. (2001Patterns of natural language use. Disclosure, personality, and social integrationCurrent Directions109093.
  • Quitadamo IJ, Kurtz MJ. Learning to improve: using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biology. CBE Life Sci Educ. 2007 Summer;6(2):140-54. doi: 10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203. PMID: 17548876; PMCID: PMC1885902.

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