If you ask writers how they came to love writing, they will most likely have the same answer: through reading. Indeed, reading is the foundation of writing. Whether you’re reading novels, poems, scientific articles, news articles, or blogs explaining how to write an argumentative essay step-by-step, all of them contribute toward improving your writing skills. If you’re not a fan of either reading or writing, this may not make sense. Read on to see how you can improve your writing through reading.
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Why Is Reading Important?
Reading, along with writing, is one of the first things taught to children in preschool. It is a vital aspect of communication in the modern world. A person must be able to read use smartphones, navigate the Internet, as well as navigate the world outside. Aside from that, it is the foundation of learning. Both children and adults learn by simply reading, they can stay informed of current events by reading news stories.
Reading is fundamental to daily life. That is not all, however. It is also instrumental to the brain’s development and intellectual progress, according to a longitudinal study conducted in Great Britain. It will arm you with various skills that you will need to succeed in your academics and professional career.
5 Ways Reading Can Help Improve Your Writing Skills
1. Improves vocabulary
Reading exposes you to hundreds of words—some old, some new. It’s a great opportunity to learn new words and see them being used in sentences. So, not only will you learn their denotative meaning by looking them up in the dictionary, but you will also understand their connotative meaning. This is especially useful for those just learning the English language but is just as beneficial for native speakers.
Reading, however, is not just good for expanding your vocabulary. It’s also a great opportunity to refresh your memory of old words that you may not have been using. There are some words that are rarely used, so even though you have encountered them, you may forget what they mean eventually. When you read, you learn new words as well as retain your knowledge of old words.
2. Improves grammar
If you find learning grammar too boring, you’re not alone. However, that is not an excuse for terrible grammar. You can master grammar when you read. This is when you see the English grammar rules in action. Even if you can’t identify the rules, you will see the right ways to structure sentences and use tenses, for instance. That way, correct grammar becomes second nature to you. That will certainly show up when you write your own essays.
3. Helps develop your own writing style
One of the things that baffle college students is how to structure their college essays and term papers. Reading gives you access to writers with well-established writing styles. The work of these writers will give you an idea of how to present your ideas. You can then explore and establish your own writing style that will convey your message accurately and still be enjoyable for the reader.
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4. Widens knowledge and perspective
As mentioned earlier, reading is a primary way of communicating. A lot of information nowadays is shared through the written word—articles and books. You can learn new things or deepen your knowledge of a subject matter through reading. Apart from that, books and essays give you access to other people’s stories and experiences, which would also enrich and expand your perspective of the world.
Why do you need this to write better? Such knowledge and perspective will allow you to write with awareness and empathy, which in turn, will help you become a better writer.
5. Improves critical thinking
It’s not only knowledge and an open mind that you gain from reading; you also develop better critical thinking skills. It encourages you to think critically about the things that you read about and see. You learn to form your own opinion based on facts rather than simply accept someone else’s. Being able to think critically will greatly improve your writing.
Critical thinking skills allow you to have unique insight into things. With that, along with your knowledge, you will likely find yourself having more to say as you write. Writing when you have something meaningful to say is so much more different than spewing words just to fill in the minimum requirement set by your professor.
How to Read to Improve Your Writing
1. Pay attention to what you read
Reading alone will help you become a better writer. However, you will grow as a writer faster if you pay closer attention to what you are reading. When you read, make it a habit not only to pay attention to the content or the message of the essay but notice how the writer communicates their message—the words they choose, how they craft each sentence, how they organize their thoughts. You will need to work on improving your writing by being observant whenever you read.
For beginners, it would help to be aware first of your weaknesses in writing. For instance, what aspect of English grammar confuses you? Take note of how other writers use this aspect of grammar and apply it when you write.
2. Take down notes
Don’t be afraid to take down notes when you write. You can then return to them later to study them or use them as references when you’re in need of inspiration. You can take down notes about how writers write or about how to improve your weaknesses. You can copy sentences that strike you and could inspire you later on. Likewise, you can write down new words you learn and their meanings. Alternatively, you could write down your thoughts about the things you read. This way, you can practice your critical thinking as you read.
3. Take what you learned for a spin
The best way to learn is to do. Whenever you learn new words or writing styles, practice using them. Write sentences using these words or try to use them in your daily conversations. Doing so will help your mind retain them.
4. Read as much as you can
If you read as much as you can, you increase your exposure to new words, writing styles, and so on. Whether you take note of these or not, they will still help nurture you’re the writer in you. Reading alone will inspire you to think critically and, more importantly, write more. This is one of the main reasons why the most prolific writers are also the most prolific readers.
5. Read from different sources
Different people have different reading preferences. Some prefer fiction, some non-fiction, some academic articles, while others read newspapers. Reading any one of these is better than not reading at all. However, taking the time to read from a wide range of sources is certainly better. Different materials touch on different topics, which will enrich your knowledge. Moreover, each source carries different writing styles. You can use these writing styles as examples or inspiration for building on your own writing style.
Improving your writing through reading is more fun than poring over a grammar book. Not only will you learn how to write better, but you will simultaneously enrich your mind with new knowledge. All these will help you become a better writer overall.