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On Reading and Writing

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” – William Faulkner

The man who owns the coffee shop that I go every morning is frustrated about his son’s lackluster English grade. He gets mostly C/C+ on most of his writing assignments. At the mention of writing that rings a bell in my head. I suggest cultivation of a reading habit—to read whatever subject that interests his son, in stead of playing video games.

All the grammar guides, writing tips, and books on writing will not make you a better writer if one never reads. Reading is just as crucial as actually writing, if not more so, and the work one produces will only be as good as the work you read.

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. I have never met a good writer who doesn’t read—and reads widely. Through reading one will gain knowledge and find inspiration. As I read more, I have learned to read with a writer’s eye. Even grammar sinks in when I read. If you’re worried about knowing all the rules of grammar, then just read books written by adept writers. Eventually, it all will become part of your mental makeup.

A well-read writer has a better handle on vocabulary, understands the nuances of language, and recognizes the difference between poor and quality writing. Most importantly, what I read will somehow manifest and find the way back in my writing. I attribute this to the brain, which is like a sponge that soaks up everything we observe and experience throughout our lives, and each thing we are exposed to becomes part of the very fiber of our beings. What we read is no exception.

One Response

  1. I have a friend who says it takes her forever to read a book because she absorbs it and reconstructs it, babies it, etc because she is an English teacher. I want to say rubbish, but I also wonder if some people can read too fast. Whatever works, and I am happy with how many books I can finish in a year and how widely I read. But, yes, students who read, likely do better with everything else. Or is that just my bias?!

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