Even with the growth of technology, writing may be the most critical basic
skill we can have. Communicating by e-mail requires writing skills. With e-mail,
you don't have the help of voice, tone or body language to help convey your
meaning. You have to rely on the proper use of all the elements that go into
writing -- composition, organization, style, wording, grammar, and spelling
-- to get your message across.
Writing is a complex activity. It involves communicating a set of mentally
formed ideas to another person. The goal is to be understood and to have the
person receiving your written message take appropriate action.
Written communication requires the use of a system of structured symbols
through the manipulation of writing instruments such as pens, pencils, brushes,
typewriters and computers. The physical act of writing calls for eye-hand
coordination and manual dexterity. In addition to the words used in the message,
the appearance of the written material will affect how the reader interprets
its content and meaning.
As the world of work moves swiftly towards becoming a knowledge-based information
economy, effective writing skills become more and more important. No matter
what career you choose, you will have to fill out forms, write applications,
resumes and cover letters, prepare and present reports, write instructions,
prepare proposals and memoranda to sell and convince potential clients and
customers, and prepare correspondence to deal with all facets of private and
You may also choose to write for fun. Letters to your friends, family,
politicians, newspaper editors and assorted kindred spirits will bring satisfaction
and pleasure. Writing your thoughts in a personal journal to explore your
inner life may bring new insights. You may even find writing is your favorite
form of expressing yourself.
In this article we will not address the usual topics of how
to write well for a particular purpose or audience. We will not consider the
mechanics of grammar, punctuation or spelling. Instead, we will concentrate
on developing specific techniques for generating new and creative ideas for
any type of writing you might want to do.
At the completion of all of the segments of this Building Skills article,
you should be able to:
- discuss the two main phases in writing
- list the five primary stages in writing
- describe clustering and mind mapping for generating writing ideas
- complete a mind map and action plan
- complete a cluster and short essay
- use the provided Internet links to get additional information on clustering
and mind mapping