Why aren't you a better writer?

For most of my life I was told I was a terrible writer. I was always great at spelling, but my grammar is mediocre at best. When it came to conveying an idea clearly, the translation from my brain to the paper never quite came through as I'd hoped.

To some extent that's still true. But here's what I've discovered.

Growing up, my teachers sucked. I didn't have encouraging English teachers. Looking back, they were all women on a power trip. I rarely got helpful feedback from my teachers. The feedback I'd get was as thorough as "this is bad, rework," or "this is okay, needs works." 

I got more and more of the same feedback as I got older. I even had an ex-girlfriend once who loved english. She would edit my papers and give me garbage feedback. Nothing ever helpful.

It also didn't help that we had to cite references and use the 5-sentence, 5 paragraph formula. Anything else was wrong and I'd get a lower grade for breaking the mold.

Fast forward to being in the business world and within months of starting my first job, I started getting compliments on my writing style. 

So, screw you old english teachers.

Feels good to get that off my chest.

I'd never had anyone tell me my writing was good. But I took it and ran with it. I've been writing pretty consistently now for the better part of 6 years and I don't see myself stopping anytime soon. 

Blog posts, tweets, emails, etc. I enjoy it all and I feel like I've become a better storyteller.

I think learning to write effectively is one of the more valuable skills you can cultivate in the business world. If you can convince people to do something or buy something with your written words, it becomes even easier to do it through the spoken word as well.

Your vocabulary expands, you learn new things, and push forward to bigger and better things.

I have a close friend who recently learned this the hard way.

In college, I remember this friend texting he had just met to say, "Nice to meat you." He would ALWAYS spell stuff wrong like that and have no idea what he was saying.

This continued for him into his career in the business world where he felt it just didn't matter. So he continued spelling things wrong and not caring or knowing what effect it was having on him.

Until recently.

When he was coming back from a business trip with his boss while sporting an overgrown beard, shorts, and a torn-up t-shirt. In the airport they ran into some clients and the boss was too embarrassed to have him around so he told him to go away for a few minutes.

When the clients left and my friend returned to his boss, the boss explained that this behavior was the reason my friend hadn't been given a promotion recently. Sure, he was a hard worker, but he felt the details didn't matter.

But they do.

Since that day, this friend of mine dresses up for every business occasion, regardless of how insignificant.

And he's learning how to spell (and use spellcheck) on everything he writes for work. He has actually put an emphasis on learning how to be a better writer so he can be more of an effective communicator.

Guess who recently got a promotion and a raise?

Learning to write makes a difference in almost any career.

It has in mine and a number of others I know.

What's holding you back?