Any good essay writer will tell you that reading is imperative to progressing further as a writer. But if you’ve heard this before and it seems like simple or trite advice, you may be wondering why and how it is so important.
In this article, we’ll discuss some techniques you can bring to your reading in order to level up your writing skills.
If you want to be a great writer, you need to follow some patterns. It is possible you’re going to break the mold and put words in an order they’ve never even been considered; however, most writers have associations, whether in thought, style, or substance, and it’s this pattern you’re building when you read.
Writing is also communicative. You are trying to bridge the gap between individuals and share some knowledge or insight. As such, you need strong critical thinking skills. You should be able to approach your abstract problem and consider it from many points of view. When we read, we are on the receiving end. Think about a book you’ve read recently. Were there points when you had a moment of clarity and everything the author said fell into place?
If so, examine this moment, take some notes on what you felt before and what you felt after, and how the author was able to bring about this change in your emotional state. Critical thinking requires us to look at how things happen, what the causes might be, how different aspects of language and rhetoric get us to a certain emotion or revelation.
Reading is good for our brains, and it does more than create enjoyment, it also fosters positive mental and physical health.
Academics have confirmed that reading activates multiple parts of our brains. These parts interact in a complex circuitry of networks and signaling. In 2013, academics used MRI scans to study readers’ brains while they were reading a novel called Pompeii. Over the course of the novel, as tension increased in the narrative, more areas of the brain began to light up. These connections persisted for days afterward. Interestingly, they were prominent in the somatosensory cortex, which is a part of the brain which deals with pain, movement, and other physical sensations.
With this in mind, while some say that creative endeavors are linked to pain and suffering, others argue that those cases are isolated and most of the time reading brinds joy and positive emotions – who could disagree?
So, reading improves your overall health, which will give you the best start to work from. This applies especially to students who need to get top grades in their exams in order to compete for increasingly rare jobs and positions. I always found it far easier to write my essay or dissertation when I was feeling well.
Reading is a small word which can refer to a variety of tasks. You read a map, you read signs, you read tea leaves, you read fiction, and you read non-fiction. There is certainly a lot to read in the world. When looking to improve your essay writing skills, it is vital to expose yourself to a variety of different texts. Read some poetry, read some technical writing, try to avoid meaningless social media readings as much as possible. But make sure you are aware of all the different ways in which words come together to create stories, hypotheses, verses, and stanzas.
A good exercise in this realm is to write whatever it is that you’re writing in a different style. You don’t have to do lots of writing, just try and put a paragraph into another style. How does it feel? Do you have to use a different logic or order? Is this order better or worse?
Reading is usually about finding answers, and writing is about asking questions. This duality can be swapped around to great effect in order to stretch your mind. Study the words of the old masters, and learn from their ways of creating memorable writings.
One useful idea from music is the idea of a contour. In a song there are highs and lows, so if you were to draw a simple graph with time on the X-axis and intensity on the Y-axis, how would your favorite tunes go? Now, take your favorite passage in a book, or a whole book even. Where does the writer build tension, and where do they release it?
Aside from the more experimental approaches to reading like energy contours, there are some hard lessons you can learn from reading. Mostly these lessons are in the form of grammar and text organization.
We do not always know what is the most correct form of grammar element, and without the help of an editor we may never know that. However, we can fall into styles of writing that we pick up by reading. Certain authors will use long sentences, like Donna Tartt and her descriptive passages, while others keep it very short. Like Hemingway. The choice is, as always, up to you. It is your writing, and what we must urge you to do when reading, however, is to be aware.
Reading improves writing because it ultimately exposes us to more words, and the more words we read, the more our brains have to draw from when it comes to expressing ourselves. Besides, regular reading keeps the connections between parts of our brains in top form, which in turn is linked to greater reasoning skills as well as higher empathy. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas on how you can improve your own reading practice, and in turn improve your writing skills.