When I was a senior in high school, no one I knew wanted to be a writer. Writing was considered an almost frivolous occupation, a luxury only academics or dreamers with eccentric ideas

engaged in. Ironically, today most of us are writing (or typing) more than we speak.

Just a decade ago, adolescents spent their free time watching TV and talking on the phone. Nowadays, young people spend most of their waking hours texting, tweeting, emailing, instant messaging and keeping up with their Facebook friends through the written word.

To be a productive member of our information-based society, we need to be able to communicate quickly and efficiently in writing. Thanks to the Internet, we've all become publishers of whatever content we want to share.

Yet for most of us, writing doesn't come naturally. Doing it well takes years of hard work and practice. The good news is, it's a learnable skill we can sharpen every day.

When I brought up this topic in a Facebook post about six months ago, it elicited great interest, especially among network marketers. It seems everyone wants to become a better writer, hence our decision to dedicate this back-to-school issue to teaching you how.

Mission accomplished. The articles that follow are filled with expert advice and practical tips from some of the most accomplished and prolific writers in the network marketing, leadership, and personal growth arenas.

To get you started, here are three rules I learned from my writing mentors to keep readers engaged:

1. Write in pictures. Humans think visually. The words we read continually conjure up images in our mind. Why settle for ordinary words when we can paint vivid images? How about this gem from Gary Wolf describing the CEO and the founder of Craigslist: "Jim Buckmaster is tall and thin, Craig Newmark is short and round, and when they stand together they look like a binary number."

2. Tell stories. Storytelling is the oldest form of human communication and one of the most effective tools we have to grab a reader's attention. Stories are memorable because the narratives create pathways in our brains that we can revisit again and again.

3. Omit needless words. This famous rule from Strunk & White's The Elements of Style is also Stephen King's primary rule, as he describes in his fascinating memoir On Writing. Did you ever read how someone "undertook an activity" instead of just "did"? Do yourself and your reader a favor: avoid verbosity and tighten up your message.

When I grew up, writing was something our parents might have dissuaded us from by telling us it wasn't something most people could make money at. Times have changed. In our knowledge-based economy, those who avoid or struggle with writing are limited in the ways they can participate.

Even though you may not have planned to be a writer, are you ready to be an irresistible communicator and master of the written word?