How Does Reading Improve Writing?

<p>Whenever I ask someone how can I improve my writing skills, they almost always recommend reading more. </p>

<p>I tend to agree with this advice. But I still wonder exactly how it happens. Exactly how does reading improve your writing, almost more than any other action? Do you think that it happens at a subconscious level of which we are unaware?</p>

<p>And what types of material should a young person looking to improve their general writing skills read?</p>

<p>Those who read are able to experience first-hand the power of writing. If you read a lot, you may begin to recognize and emulate good writing.</p>

<p>I happen to believe that reading also helps a person with spelling and grammar. Of course, with some authors that would not be the case ... I sure wouldn't want to use Faulkner as an example of proper grammar!</p>

<p>This is a complex issue. Yes, much of the benefit of reading re improving your writing is subconscious. There is a concept of "book language" vs. "spoken language." That refers to more complex sentence structure and more formal language and vocabulary. </p>

<p>Reading at more complex levels also increases higher order thinking skills and comprehension across a broad spectrum. It's good for your brain to read what is referred to as "dense" text, which requires you to really think about what you are reading in order to understand it.</p>

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If you read a lot, you may begin to recognize and emulate good writing.

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<p>Yes, this.</p>

<p>Also increases vocabulary tremendously which allows you to convey your thoughts more eloquently on paper.</p>

<p>Definitely a vocabulary booster. The more practice you have processing written material the more material you have in your brain to use for your own writing. Obviously the better written material, both fiction and nonfiction, will give you better material in your memory to draw upon. You also get vicarious experiences for places and events you haven't lived long enough (no matter how old you are you will never be able to ge many compared to reading about things) to do yourself.</p>

<p>I read a lot and always have.</p>

<p>I can recognize good/bad writing.</p>

<p>But I am still not a good writer.</p>

<p>While I totally agree that reading to recognize good writing is a prerequisite (I always smile when people who barely read fiction say they want to write a novel), I would also add that writing a lot is just as important. You get good at it by practicing. Also, don't expect your first draft of anything to be good. Write and then learn to heavily edit your material. Also, have someone else look at it for clarity.</p>

<p>When you are young, before you learn how to read, it's all about emergent literacy. Listening, writing (even scribbling), talking and of course, being read to. These things continue to work hand in hand as you learn to read and beyond.</p>

<p>FallGirl, it is possible that you are not a good writer because you do not write often. And I mean more than a few papers each semester. </p>

<p>Few good writers can say that they don't read much. Good writers must be well read. And they also must write a lot. The two go hand in hand.</p>

<p>Mu kids writing abilities improved dramatically when they had to write daily essays and weekly longer writing assignments.</p>

<p>To write just do it over and over again until you find your story.</p>

<p>“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions... But the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain</p>

<p>Practicing your writing skills along with reading will help improve your skills more so than just reading. Sometimes I just get into the plot of the book and I fly by without really noticing the mechanics of the author's style. Writing forces me to actually pay attention to what I'm doing and I sometimes do find myself going back to a novel to see how one author did it.</p>

<p>This is why musicians continuously listen to music, painters look carefully at the paintings of the past and good film directors are forever watching other films. Good art does not develop in a vacuum.</p>

<p>And reading is great to learn spelling. There is nothing worse than a great sentence (or business document or letter) with spelling errors</p>

<p>
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FallGirl, it is possible that you are not a good writer because you do not write often. And I mean more than a few papers each semester.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I agree with you. Reading alone will not make a good writer. Unfortunately the schools I attended while growing up in a small town in the 60's and 70's were not very good. We were rarely required to do any writing and by the time I attended college I picked electives partly based on whether or not writing was required. Thankfully I now live in an area with good schools and my kids have done a lot of writing and are both quite good at it.</p>

<p>My great greats educated in Vermont at the turn of the 1800s could write. I have letters and the style beats Strunk and White. They were carpenters. One thing, they grew up listening to the King James Bible. Read modern stories but know the old ones. Then write, write, write.</p>