73% of employers are looking for candidates with good written communication skills. It’s a part of the job description that many applicants skim over because it doesn’t seem essential—but employers rank it as the third most important skill an applicant can have. And if you probe deep, most people in our workforce aren’t confident in their writing skills.
There are a few common mistakes people make that have a big impact on the quality of their writing. Even the best writers make these mistakes, and they’re easy to spot and fix if you know what you are looking for. So without sugarcoating it, here are three mistakes you need to stop making to be a good writer (and how to fix them).
Mistake 1: You assume that more words = intelligent writing.
This is the most common mistake and the most infuriating for the reader. Many people who make this mistake are very intelligent (they may even be academics). But lots of commas and asides can leave your readers confused and disengaged.
The Fix: Read your work out loud. If it sounds very different from how you would naturally explain your topic in conversation, you are likely too wordy. Try explaining your point out loud as you would to a friend, and use that as a guide for your writing.
Mistake 2: You’re abusing adverbs and adjectives.
Another common mistake: pairing adverbs and adjectives with every verb or noun. While these parts of speech can be useful, they also slow down your writing, and overusing them can make your writing sound redundant.
The Fix: Really think about your descriptors. If the descriptors are redundant or don’t add to the meaning of your sentence, you probably don’t need them. Try reading your sentence out loud without the descriptors to see if you need them.
Mistake 3: You use the passive voice.
This is the one your English teacher probably discussed most, and for a good reason. Passive voice weakens your sentences.
The Fix: Add zombies. In sentences written in passive voice, the subject is being acted upon instead of performing the action. Try adding an actor (like zombies) to perform the action. If the sentence is still grammatically correct, it’s passive.
Once you are aware of these mistakes, it will be easier to stop making them and your writing will improve. And like any skill, your writing will only improve with practice! Looking for a more in-depth lesson on writing for your business (or someone to write for you)? Contact us.