This is something going on with my generation that even I am not comprehending. It’s the matter of putting pen to paper, or more succinctly, putting pen to paper correctly (and creatively).
After sending a sample piece of writing to a perspective freelance client, I got feedback with one comment in particular that surprised me. “You have a great style of writing and such a voice in your work. You wouldn’t believe how many applicants we get that can’t even put together a sentence correctly.”
And today at the Buffalo/Niagara PRSA event on Content Curation, I overheard a conversation about how this person has an intern whose writing is abysmal (their words, not mine, ouch!). She cannot write to save her life. I even wrote down what I heard because it kind of did this –> (Mind = Blown).
“Maybe we just need to start looking for English majors. I’m sure they know how to write. Everything else is taught so business oriented in college nowadays. It’s like they’re not even taught [writing] anymore.”
Hold the phone. What is going on? As a recent graduate in Public Communication, and a future student in Integrated Marketing Communication (and possibly MBA, fingers crossed), I am damned proud to be an awesome writer. I may not be a stellar in grammar, especially the first time around, but that’s what proofreading and editors are for. But writing is a fundamental practice in an industry like ours. And now Communication students are getting bashed for being poor writers?
Let’s get it together, folks.
Here are some tips from a budding public relations/marketing professional who happens to love writing.
1. READ A LOT! I’m not saying you have to read Tolstoy (I once read Anna Karenina and it took me four months and at the end, it wasn’t even worth it to me) but you have to read something! Read everything that interests you, everything in your field/industry, read things from other professionals. When I told a my 5th grade teacher that I wanted to be a writer (back then I had figured novelist), she told me I had to read. And so I did. It kind of died down during my early high school years due to being a teenager and knowing everything (duh) but rapidly picked up toward the end of high school and the beginning of college. I don’t think I would have ever developed a voice without picking up on different things from a wide range of authors. I guess the entire Nicholas Sparks series counts? (O.o)
2. Don’t know a word? LOOK IT UP. Adding to your vocabulary can add an eloquence to your writing and keep simple phrases from being too redundant and menial. Variety is the spice of life, is it not? There is no shame in keeping a dictionary, or in my case- dictionary.com, nearby.
3. Take every chance you can to learn new ways of writing. When I took a Sports Journalism class in college, the professor was going to allow me to make a PR campaign in lieu of writing a feature piece on a sports story. Apparently, my refusal of doing the same thing I’ve done in a Sports PR class was interestingly rare. I wanted the chance to write a full feature sports story. I did and it impressed my professor so much he wanted to submit it to local newspapers. It never came to fruition but the fact that he wanted to gave me a lot of confidence. Write often!
Those are my top three tips. At least those are what I follow to continue growing as a writer as I continue to develop professionally. Of course, a dream on the back burner is to one day write my own book, but I also write because it is so poignant in any one of my chosen fields.
Let us not be a generation of illiterates and babblehands (screwy sentences, the way a babble mouth sounds but written. I just made this up.)
Writing is not so bad. It requires a little bit of focus but is mainly a lot of fun. Says me, the wannabe novelist at age 10 in Ms. Waas’ 5th grade class.
Regardless of how fun you find writing to be, if you’re in a Communications program, there is no excuse as to why your internship coordinator is so displeased with your writing.
It’s not enough to implement a PR campaign, you have to write out a plan.
It’s not enough to shoot a demo reel, you have to write a script.
And if you’re in Communications to be a journalist but have no inclination toward writing, please leave now.