Learning to Write Well: Why Bother?

Why should I bother to learn to write well? I’ll never use it after I graduate, anyway.

Learning to write effectively is not just about writing college papers. Learning to make a convincing argument, to marshal sources to back up what you are saying, and make an appeal to your audience – these are all things that can follow you into not just your professional life, but into your personal life as well.

Let’s say that someone (unfortunately) steals your identity and runs up a bunch of debt. You are going to need to write email and most likely letters, making clear statements about what debt is yours and what is not, and asking credit reporting agencies to clean up your credit reports.

Let’s say you discover, in the course of a divorce, that your partner stopped making the mortgage payments. When you find out, you fix it right away, but the next time you go to get a home loan, you have to explain to the bank–in writing–what happened and why they should consider you to be a good risk.

Let’s say that you get divorced, and you have to write a parenting plan for how you and your ex will split time and handle health decisions, reprimanding children, and so on.

Let’s say that you become an engineer. You will either have to write, or supervise someone else, in the writing of contracts, change orders, punch lists, and so on.

Let’s say you become a computer programmer.  The good skills that you learn for writing well will serve you well as you organize and comment your code.

Police officer? You’re going to be writing report after report, and they are going to have to be clear enough to use in court.

Medical doctor? You may be dictating a lot, but if you want to conduct research and publish, you’re also going to have to write.

Carpenter? Contracts, change orders, bills . . . liens if someone refuses to pay you . . .

Need to find a job to begin with? You will need to write a convincing cover letter and be able to organize your resume.

Internship? Get ready to write convincingly about yourself in order to be competitive.

Not-for-profit? Take some grant-writing classes.

The fact is, that writing projects are likely to follow you for the rest of your life, to an extent (read more about how good writing matters). If you are fortunate enough to have someone else write for you, you still need to be able to evaluate what good writing is, and give feedback on what needs to be done better.

Finally, we live in an increasingly competitive world. Have you looked at the job ads lately?  How many of them call for excellent written and oral communication skills? If you can write well–or even exceptionally well–then you have an advantage over all of the others that didn’t bother to hone that skill. Being able to write well means that you are also able to think well, to handle complex thoughts and data, and a whole host of other traits that are desirable to employers looking to hire and promote others.

Writing well can literally make your life better. Want to learn?

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