Jennifer Wilber is an author and freelance writer from Ohio. She holds a B.A. in creative writing and English.
Read to Write
One of the most effective ways to improve your writing is to read. Reading exposes you to different writing styles and new ideas. When you read content on a wide variety of subjects, you simply gain more knowledge about the world that you can then incorporate into your writing. You also learn different writing styles, new words, and how to structure your writing more effectively just by taking in written words by other writers.
Helps Remove Writer’s Block
All writers experience bouts of writer’s block at times. Sometimes you just aren’t inspired or can’t think of anything you want to say in your writing. Many writers find that one of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to read. Reading the work of other writers can help to inspire your own writing. Whether you are reading an old favorite or discovering a new author, reading is a sure way to give you a new perspective on your own writing. Read other works related to what you are writing to inspire new ideas about the topic or read something completely different to help you think about your writing in a completely different way.
One of the most obvious benefits that reading has on your writing is that reading improves your vocabulary. By simply reading books and articles, and looking up the definitions of unfamiliar words or learning their meanings through context clues, you are building your vocabulary, which gives you a plethora of new words to use in your own writing. Just be sure you truly understand what an unfamiliar word means, and how it is properly used in a sentence, before attempting to use it in writing or in everyday speech.
Improves Your Grammar
In addition to improving your vocabulary, reading can also help to improve your grammar. The more you read, the more familiar you become with the normal rules of grammar. This helps you to unconsciously learn to incorporate these rules into your own writing automatically, leading to fewer grammar mistakes in your writing.
Improves Knowledge of Writing Structure
Another obvious benefit of reading for writers is that reading improves your knowledge of writing structure. You can easily pick up structure rules simply by paying attention to what you are reading. Whether you are writing a novel, an article for the web, or an academic research paper, reading a lot of works in a similar format can help you to become more familiar with the basic structure for that particular type of writing.
Allows You to Explore Different Writing Styles
When you read many different genres and types of writing, you will find that each writer has their own unique writing style. Pay attention to the stylistic choices other authors make in their writing, and think about how you can apply similar styles to your own writing, or how you can blend different styles that are prevalent in different genres to cross boundaries and make your own writing stand out. Exploring a variety of different styles across different genres can help you to discover your own unique style.
Helps Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Reading can also help you to develop your critical thinking skills, which can help to make you a stronger writer. As you read a novel, you might think critically about a number of things about the book, including the characters’ motives, what is happening in the plot, themes, symbolism, and subtext the author may have used. As you read a non-fiction piece, you may find yourself thinking critically about the facts or opinions the writer presents, and whether the piece has any credibility or merit. As you develop your critical thinking skills, you learn to assess what makes a piece of writing “good.” Learning to think critically as you read can help you to think critically about your own writing.
Improves Memory and Cognitive Function
Reading can help improve your memory and overall cognitive function. The act of reading is sometimes thought of as “jogging for the brain.” This means that reading is one of the most effective ways you can exercise your brain. A British study found that reading for pleasure not only improves one’s literacy but math ability as well:
Of the 17,000 members, 6,000 took a range of cognitive tests at age 16. We compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less. In other words, reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, both in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics. In fact, the impact was around four times greater than that of having a parent with a post-secondary degree.
With improved cognitive functioning comes improved writing ability through a greater ability to make mental connections. Those with higher cognitive functioning can write more clearly and expressively.
Expands Knowledge of the World
Being well-read can also expand your knowledge of the world. By reading about different cultures, you can gain a greater understanding of different people. You expand your perspective and are able to write for a wider audience with sensitivity to different cultures. Reading stories by and about people who are different from yourself can help you to build empathy and cultural awareness.
Read More, Write More
If you are a writer, you probably started writing because of your love for the written word. You are likely already an avid reader, which is good news for your writing. Reading more can help to improve your writing by improving your vocabulary, grammar, and writing structure skills. The act of reading can also help you to incorporate new writing styles into your work and give you fresh perspectives that can be used in your writing. Reading can improve your critical thinking skills and cognitive function, which can help you to become a more effective writer.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jennifer Wilber
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 09, 2021:
Very informative and good to apply. Thanks.
Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on September 09, 2021:
Great article Jennifer. All of the above help. I'm an avid reader and I know it helps with my writing (I write fiction novels by Maria P Frino - author). I also enjoy how I'm taken into worlds I never expected and the lives of characters that I fall in love with.