In school, we devote time and energy to learning many different skills, in many different subject areas. Some of these skills may feel more relevant than others. A student who dreams of becoming an artist may bemoan the hours spent calculating derivatives in Algebra, while a future chemist might wonder why she should bother with Social Studies’ long list of ancient events. By the time students reach high school and begin to develop ideas about where they’re headed in life, a common complaint emerges: “When am I ever going to use this?” 

Writing is no exception. Learning to write is an abstract and time-consuming process, and might seem like a waste of time if you’re not planning on penning the next Great American Novel. However, in today’s fast-paced and information-driven society, being able to organize your ideas in a clear and concise manner is an invaluable asset, regardless of your career path.

Here are four reasons why learning to write well is worthwhile for everyone.

1. Writing improves thinking. 

Learning to write is learning how to think something through. When tasked with writing an essay, students must figure out how to organize a complex and potentially extensive array of information—combing through, analyzing, arranging, and re-arranging in order to reach a cogent conclusion. The same process is performed inside the human mind on a daily basis, as we move through and process the world, in all its ambiguity. Developing a thoughtful, focused understanding of the writing process will improve not only the quality of our writing, but also the quality of our thinking, by teaching us to structure our thinking in a clear and logical manner. 

2. Writing opens doors.

A strong writer makes an excellent first impression on potential employers, clients, and associates, many of whom we first encounter these days through digital exchanges. Having a sense of not only what to say, but how to say it, will enable you to present yourself and your qualifications effectively in your professional life, and positively influence others’ perceptions of your intelligence and competence.

3. Writing is a primary form of communication in our technological society. 

Whether you’re drafting an important email, shooting off a quick text, or perfecting your social media caption, a skilled writer knows how to manipulate their words and tone to communicate the exact message they’d like to get across to their audience. Learning to write well can empower you to feel confident executing any task that requires some form of written correspondence. 

4. Writing is a form of self-expression.

Our identities are intrinsically tied to our ideas and values. We use words to communicate our ideas and values to others. As such, the ability to choose the right words for our intended meaning is an essential aspect of the ability to express ourselves in the ways that we desire. Simple, direct prose can evidence a straightforward manner or no-nonsense attitude, while energetic, embellished paragraphs can make an individual’s passion palpable. By learning to write well, we empower ourselves to put forth the narratives we want for ourselves and articulate our own unique perspectives.

Finding the perfect way to express your thoughts and feelings to others can be a daunting, but also rewarding, and even beautiful, act. Though it may be frustrating at times to engage in an open-ended process—one in which improvement is difficult to quantify—learning to write is a challenge worth devoting your best effort to, as it will enrich both your personal and professional life in ways far-reaching and fundamental.

Molly received her BA from Harvard, graduating with Highest Honors in English and Theater, Dance & Media. During her time as an undergrad, she was named a Le Baron Russell Briggs Traveling Fellow, an Artist Development Fellow, and a John Harvard Scholar, and spent a summer studying Shakespeare at the University of Cambridge in England.

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