Writing skills allow you to communicate clearly with others, share ideas and create useful resources. Even if your subject area or profession doesn’t focus solely on writing you will likely still require a certain level of written communication expertise. Today we’ll discuss the writing skills that we have experience in based on our studies and how these could be important for you.
Research and Planning
By John Weightman
Whether you’re writing a book or a short essay planning can make all the difference. You should start with just a rough skeleton that maps out the order of your overarching thoughts. Next, go through each thought and start outlining the sub-elements. The idea is to focus on breadth before depth. If you focus too much on any given section of your writing, it’ll be harder to rearrange it later if you realize there’s a better way to structure the document. Properly planning any piece of writing before you begin provides a few key benefits:
- Improves the structure and flow of your writing.
- Organises your thoughts.
- Cuts down on thinking-time when writing.
- The best way to improve your planning skills is to develop an iterative approach.
In addition to planning in any academic writing knowing how to reference is incredibly important. It demonstrates the depth of your research and acknowledges other people’s work. It ensures that you avoid plagiarism by making it clear which ideas are yours as well as showing your understanding of the topic. There are many ways to reference depending on both the source and the referencing style most of which are discussed in the University Skills Guides and will be fully covered in a later blog post.
Writing skills for STEM
By Codey McShane
For students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses, it can sometimes seem like you don’t need to spend much time on your writing skills because they might not be as directly related to the work you’re doing. Whether it’s writing a research paper or creating technical documentation, the ability to express your thoughts through writing is an important skill even in the most technical of fields.
Within these fields, you’ll be required to write with clarity, ease and without jargon to prevent miscommunication (Google Developers, 2021). When writing, you should be aware of your audience and tailor your communication to their level of knowledge about the subject.
Developing your writing skills may also improve your critical thinking and problem-solving techniques. In STEM you’ll find yourself dealing with complex ideas and information – being able to break that information down and then evaluate or convey it to others is more difficult than learning the information in the first place. Developing your writing skills will improve your overall ability to communicate. (Quitadamo and Kurtz, 2007)
So, writing a blog about a blog
By David Moore
Writing blogs in my experience expresses to the reader the importance of creation, that being a story, a game or animation. This shows the development of creation and the journey of the creator, such as, where they may have gained inspiration and learnt new skills/ techniques. Without writing skills and creativity a blog would be a bland description of the designer’s day to day activities. Writing skills are important to help the reader understand what the writer is entailing, to show their point of view and expression to their piece of work. Without writing skills, you would not be able to provide clear communication, understanding or development to a project or share your own point of view with others.
By Joanna Rawnsley
Being able to reflect on your work is crucial to all academics, be it writing a reflective journal about your creative process, a blog about your research and how it’s helped you progress, or a commentary on a group task you did in a lab. You will always be learning from your previous work and using your experience to help you in future tasks. It’s not only crucial in writing heavy subjects such as English and History, but practical ones like the Sciences and Performing Arts.
Reflective writing makes you look at your work through a critical lens, this doesn’t mean writing in your assessments “my work is rubbish.” It means looking at your strengths and weaknesses, where did you go wrong and what would you do differently next time. It’s not all negative though! Maybe you achieved a great grade on an assessment after using techniques you learnt in class, this can also be a part of your reflection.
Reflective writing helps you understand yourself better and recognise any necessary changes you need to make in your techniques.
Check out our Reflective Writing Guide for more guidance and information.
Google Developers (2021) Overview of technical writing courses | Technical Writing [online]. Available at: https://developers.google.com/tech-writing/overview [Accessed: 15 September 2021].
Quitadamo, I. & Kurtz, M. (2007) Learning to Improve: Using Writing to Increase Critical Thinking Performance in General Education Biology. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 6(2), 140-154.