Good writing vs. great writing
The truth is, good writing takes practice. I believe that most people are capable of good writing, and that only a few people are capable of spectacular writing. No matter what the genre (business, creative, non-fiction, etc.), this theory seems to hold true.
Case in point #1: Of all the books published every year, many are good (obviously, or they wouldn't be published at all right?). But how many become best sellers? And of those, how many actually win literary awards? There are plenty of good book writers, few great ones. This is a trend that goes back to the ye old days of Shakespeare, who in his time never achieved the literary acclaim he has now.
Case in point #2: I have seen non-writing business colleagues create marketing materials or implementation guides that were actually fairly good. But I've also re-worked documents from colleagues (including colleagues supposedly specializing in marketing communications - yikes) that lacked flow, structure, and general grammatical accuracy. Good writing exists, great writing is hard to find.
So what can you do?
Practice, practice, practice. Writing with correct structure, and with interesting words. Break out the thesaurus (there is one available in Microsoft Word) and find a different way to describe something. This is one of the best tools you can use to make your writing more interesting.
The importance of good communication
Beyond grammatical accuracy, interesting content and language "rules" (which honestly, good writers sometimes completely ignore), a good writer is first and foremost good at communicating. If you have trouble communicating via speech, you will have trouble communicating via the written word.
Whether you are writing marketing collateral to sell something, training materials to teach something, a book to tell a story, or an RFP for a client...if you cannot get your message across with your words, you have failed as a writer.
How can I improve my writing?
My three biggest guidelines:
#1: Read. And read a lot. You will increase your vocabulary and your ability to craft material. I recommend reading some of the classics, or some of the award winning novels you can find via the New York Times listings. These books will have the best examples of excellent writing, not just good writing.
#2: Practice. In all my years of writing, I still have things to learn. New approaches, new techniques, new presentation. It takes practice to create something truly engaging for the reader. So write, and write often.
#3: Consider a writing class. If you don't know where to start or are interested in creative writing (novels, poetry, short stories), a class at your local community college can help you get moving.