No matter what skill you want to master, you should know what you’re doing, and writing is no exception. Although the connection between reading and writing is rather obvious, many people still forget how important reading is for developing strong writing skills. People who love to read books can learn a lot from them and use these examples to improve their own writing.
Of course, not all writers write novels. For example, there are technical writers, bloggers, copywriters, journalists, and many other professionals who need good writing skills. Classical literature may not help you if you want to write for a tech blog, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read. The main thing is to choose reading materials that can actually be useful for you. You can always read articles related to your niche or other textual materials similar to what you’re going to write.
Many athletes agree that competing with someone more skilled can be very useful because it motivates you to improve your own skills. In the same way, reading examples of good writing can help you understand what areas you need to improve. Besides, you can see what approaches are effective and use them in your work. Here are the four main reasons why reading can make you a better writer.
Reading can improve your vocabulary
First of all, reading can improve your vocabulary. In fact, reading is probably the only way one can learn new words. If your writing suffers from repetition or if you realize that you often try to describe your thoughts more precisely but don’t know how to do it, the chances are that your vocabulary needs some improvement.
The best solution is to read materials related to your subject or niche and to write down words that look interesting to you. If you want to better understand the meaning of some new words, look them up and write down their meaning. Check out definitions, grammar, and the way these words are used in sentences.
Another good practice is called close reading. Close reading is a continuous process of reading and writing. Combining these two activities in a loop is a great exercise for your brain. This way, you can use new words immediately, quickly memorizing them. The main thing about expanding your vocabulary through reading is not to fixate on results and to maintain the learning process as a habit.
Reading helps overcome writer’s block
Writer’s block is a common problem for many people. Moreover, people from different professions suffer from the creative block so this is not only writers’ problem. One of the most effective methods for fighting writer’s block is to offer your brain a distraction, and reading is a perfect solution.
“If your brain gets stuck working on a certain task, you can read a short story or poem to switch focus to a completely different topic. Your brain will unconsciously find some new solutions, and you may get some inspiration,” suggests Laura Blakney, a language school owner, teacher and Academic Director at LiveLingua.com.
Writer’s block is especially common among perfectionists. Sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with a perfect plot twist, sentence, or even word. However, if you take a look at some of the best examples of writing, you may notice that good writers like to keep things simple.
When you stay focused on something for a very long time, you may get too focused on details, and that’s where you’re more likely to over-complicate things. If you distract your brain by reading completely different content, you’ll be able to distance yourself from your writing and come back with some fresh perspective.
Reading can improve your writing structure
College students hate writing, mostly because they struggle to come up with the right words for their academic papers. For some part, writing may seem hard also if you don’t have the structure of your writing in mind.
No matter whether you write technical documentation or novels, your writing should have a certain structure. Understanding the structure of different types of writing and the ability to create the right structure are necessary for every writer, and reading can help you with it.
By reading different types of content, you will learn how writers structure their text and in what manner they express their thoughts. The main thing is to read carefully. Analyze the structure of content. Consider headings, subheadings, and the length of different sections. Take a look at the structure of the paragraphs.
For example, writers may introduce the subtopic at the beginning of the paragraph, then present some details, and then summarize the whole paragraph. Paragraphs may also begin or end with transitional sentences that connect the meaning of two paragraphs or larger sections. Writers may also use different approaches depending on the type and style of writing.
Reading improves cognitive cohesion
The process of reading itself is a great exercise for your brain because it combines different brain activities. You perceive text visually, you interpret it, and you use your imagination to put the meaning together. A study that focused on children aged 10 to 16 years demonstrated that children who read more than once a week demonstrated higher test results.
The most interesting thing about this study is that children who read more showed better results even in tasks that are not directly related to writing, including math tasks.
Given that reading combines different types of brain activity, it stimulates brain connectivity. When you imagine things that you read and put yourself in the story, you train multiple areas of your brain responsible for different senses, memory, and other important functions. In turn, better cognitive cohesion increases memory retention so you can operate with information and find appropriate writing approaches more effectively.
If you want to become a better writer, you need to read more. It doesn’t mean that you should read novels and poems — you can always choose textual materials related to your niche so that you can check out examples of good writing and learn from them. Things that work for other writers may also work for you, and reading can also serve as a source of inspiration.
Reading is also a great exercise for your brain. To become a better writer, you should train your memory, expand your vocabulary, improve your phrasing and word choice. Reading can help you with this. Besides, reading can be a perfect distraction when you get stuck because of writer’s block.