I love the beginning of a new year. I love the chance to reflect on the past one and feel inspired for the one ahead. Strangely, however, this year is different as I seem to have matured enough to realize that so much of life is a work in progress. Rather than having a whole list of goals written out by January 1 like I always did before, I instead can look at progress made and ways to continue moving my goals forward. Everything looks more like a continuum than a checklist. Is that the result of finally growing up? Or now being empty nesters?

Better business writing means constant efforts to improve
I’m not sure about the empty nesters part, but I am sure the idea of constant progress applies to our business writing as much as to our life goals. As I’ve started down the (admittedly very) slow path of turning BetterFasterWriter.com into something that really does help people develop better writing skills for business and work, I’ve come to realize that perhaps the number one message I need to get across is one of constant effort. Not how to know when to use “that” vs. “which,” or a semicolon vs. a comma, but a message that the most important thing is continual learning and getting better.

Everyone has room to improve
Everyone can benefit from striving to get better! I’ve spent 20 years writing for a living and I still have room to improve—and always will. When someone else edits my work, it’s eye-opening and educational to see what they change, because they have a different opinion of my writing (as in they’re not married to it, for one thing) and they are reading it from the point of view of a reader, not writer.

At first when I sat down to blog today, I was very specific thinking about this. I thought I’d encourage everyone to choose one way to develop better writing skills for business this year. (My own goal is to stop using the word “just” so often. I just find it so handy. Oh wait. Crap. Resolution already broken!) But after pondering that idea for a while, I think actually the best goal for 2018 is to simply choose to improve, to focus on better writing skills for business, whether that means getting better at proofreading, or faster at email writing, reading more, or something else.

Are better writing skills for business worth the effort? 7 reasons to say “yes
If you’re about to click the “Back” button because you don’t want me adding one more thing to your very long to-do list, hang on. Let me explain why it’s worth your time and trouble to get better at writing at work, for work. Below are just seven reasons why you should want to improve your business writing skills.

  1. Your writing skills can either help you get promoted or keep you from getting promoted.
  2. Good writers are perceived to be more intelligent, which increases your credibility as an employee and a colleague—as well as your promotable factor.
  3. If you are dealing with people outside of the organization such as customers or vendors, you are more trusted when you write well—and your writing represents your company better.
  4. Stronger writers are more productive because they get their points across faster.
  5. Also, the better you are at writing, the faster you can write well, making you more productive.
  6. Good writing saves time for your reader too, because you communicate clearly the first time, making everyone more productive.
  7. It’s a skill that sticks with you, at your current job and the job after that and the job after that.

If moving ahead in your career is one of your 2018 goals, then improving your business writing skills should be on your to-do list, no matter how busy you are! And I will do what I can to help.

Happy New Year to you, and wishing you all good things in the year ahead!

Sharon Ernst is a retired freelance copywriter now on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes.