I came across this article, The Most Enjoyable Way to Improve Your Writing Skills, today via LinkedIn. The article, written by a communications professor, is about how reading helps make you a better writer.
It’s no secret that good writers love to read, and they read a lot. This professor gives her students an assignment in which they’re asked to name their favorite writers. She says that some of the students think the assignment is a waste of time. Some even brag about the fact that they don’t read a lot. That’s no surprise. You don’t really have to read much to get along in this world. You can get your information from tv, scan the bold text on web pages, and hang around with people who do read, and latch on to their ideas and opinions.
I don’t read enough, but I can tell you why I think I should read more.
1) Reading will help me with grammar.
I did okay in English in high school, and I passed the AP test, so I didn’t have any English requirements in college, although I did take a technical writing class. I think I was the only non-engineer in the class. I remember writing instructions on how to clean a house for one of our assignments.
I am not confident when it comes to the rules of grammar. I’m especially frightened of commas and semicolons. When I read, I pay attention to the grammar. Of course, you don’t necessarily know if what you’re reading is written in accordance with the grammar rules, but you assume that since it’s published, it must be okay.
2) Reading gives me information.
I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks. Although listening to a book doesn’t help build my grammar skills, it does count as reading. I like detective stories, and I’ve listened to quite a few of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta mysteries. Now I know a thing or two about solving crimes committed by serial killers. I also know a little about Botswana and Edinburgh, Scotland thanks to Alexander McCall Smith. So when I read, I learn stuff. That’s good.
3) Reading allows me to walk in other people’s shoes.
I would love to be British, but I’m not. When I read Bridget Jones’s Diary, I’m Bridget Jones, and I’m British. When I read Alistair MacLean’s Circus, I’m a tightrope walking spy. You get the idea. Reading allows me to experience worlds that I will never encounter in real life. My mind expands and I have more room to write. I’d like to think that thing about having room to write is true, but I really don’t know. I’m not actually sure what I mean by that. It sounded good.
I’m sure I could go on and on about why reading is a good thing, but if you’re reading this, I’m preaching to the choir. The bottom line is this: I need to read more.