You have no authorial ambitions, no desire to write books, articles, or anything remotely “literary.” You’re not interested in a career in PR, either. So you probably think you have no need to be a good writer. Right?
Are you still in your teens? (If you’re not, keep reading anyhow. I’ll get to your age shortly.) Let’s start with your college admission application—and the essay you have to send in with it. That essay is important—so important that I’ve been paid to edit a number of college application essays to make them more presentable. Not only will your grammar, spelling, and punctuation be judged by the admissions committee, but your ability to write well counts too!
And even if you’re not in your teens, you may be applying to a school, perhaps to get an advanced degree. Again, you’ll be asked for an essay.
If you do get into college, you’ll have papers and theses to write, and perhaps a dissertation. How well will you do? When your professor grades you, will she or he take points off for poor writing skills?
Now what about work? Some employers ask for some sort of essay-type document, and again your writing skills are there to be judged. Can you hack it? Or will you fail to get the job because your writing ability doesn’t cut it?
If you get the job, will you be asked to write reports and other documents? How about business letters? If it’s a small company, where everyone wears a multitude of hats, will you one day be asked to write a press release, an article to submit to the local paper, or other promotional material?
Suppose one day you decide to start your own company, even if its beginnings are as a small sideline while you continue to work at your day job? You’ll need to write web copy, perhaps a blog, perhaps press releases, perhaps business letters, perhaps such other materials as instructions for the use of the product you’re selling. Of course you can hire a pro to do the writing for you, but that costs money, and if your start-up has a shoestring budget, hiring a writer may be out of the question.
What are your hobbies? If, for example, you paint, sculpt, or engage in some other form of art, and your work is displayed somewhere, you may be asked to write a paragraph or more about each of your pieces that is part of the display. You may also be asked to write a short bio of yourself. How well can you do it?
One day—I hope it isn’t any time soon—a close relative will pass on to the next world. It may be a parent, a sibling, your spouse, or someone else close, and to some family member may fall the responsibility of writing an obituary. If yours is a small family, that responsibility may fall by default to you. Again, your writing skills will need to be sharp. Are you up for it?
Writing well is a very useful if not downright necessary skill—and not just for authors. Not by a long shot. How’s your writing?