I’m paid both to evaluate the writing of others and to write for publication (professors must publish or perish). After years of requiring writing assignments in my accounting and general business courses, I have concluded that those opting into accounting are worse writers than most other students. After graduation, writing skills remain lacking because accountants do not pursue professional development in writing.
It wouldn’t be a problem if bad writers didn’t write. They have to, however, because in today’s social media world business professionals (including accountants) write more than ever before.
The problem is exacerbated when bad writers believe they are better writers than they actually are. Instead of avoiding advanced writing tasks that result in failure, they rush to volunteer for such opportunities. Qué pena.
Tom Johnson at I’d Rather Be Writing, authors my favorite blog on writing. He provides insight into this problem in a recent post, “What Does It Mean to Know How to Write?” His key contribution, in my opinion, is organizing typical writing tasks into a writing spectrum.
Johnson explains that various writing tasks require different level of skill. The simplest writing tasks–texts, e-mails, PowerPoint slides and tweets–don’t need much writing skill. Much of the time, professionals who are bad writers can perform such tasks successfully.
On the other end of the writing spectrum, there are writing tasks needing, “… original idea development, organization of lengthy arguments, style and flow and voice, and a host of other elements that require more advanced abilities.” When most professionals attempt tasks requiring lots of writing ability, lack of writing skill results in embarrassment and loss of clients. [And how!]
There are two ways to mitigate the problem. The first is to have one’s writing skill professionally assessed. Armed with an honest appraisal of writing ability, professionals then can avoid tasks for which they are unqualified. The second is for professionals to seek continuing education in writing.
I vote for improvement through continuing education.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht