Does Reading Make You a Better Writer?

Yes. There is a linear relationship between reading and writing. Studies have proven that reading expands writing and writing enhances reading. Each benefits the other. The academic community no longer considers them individual subjects. Instead, it believes the two should be intertwined to form a cohesive unit of study, promoting greater achievements in both. But how exactly does reading improve our writing? I do not seek to reiterate what has already been proven scientifically (articles of proof are below) but instead want to touch upon the logical argument of why each affects the other.

Thanks to advances in technology, a scientist can now identify the exact regions of the brain stimulated during reading. These same areas, according to brain-mapping, are activated by real-life experiences. In other words, the reader travels the same precarious path and the same emotions, whether good or bad, of a character in a novel. Our brains remember. Try writing about captivity without ever reading a first-hand experience of a captive. Thoughts and opinions are formulated through reading. Connections take root. Studies have proven that immersion in literary fiction increases the complexity of thought. Hence, scores are dramatically higher on writing assessments by students who read literary fiction. A direct correlation between reading and writing. Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power. The power to inspire, persuade and inform.

People’s lives are a compilation of thoughts, experiences, and memories, all stored along chemical pathways within the brain, initiated by the firing of neurons. We learn by reading. We read for our careers, our improvement, our pleasure, and these neurons are our scribes. But how does this help my writing? How can it not?’ is the better question!

A runner trains for a marathon. A bodybuilder trains for a competition. A writer should train for writing. Reading is mental stimulation; exercise for the brain. When you read, subconsciously you are absorbing POV, sentence structure, grammar, and characterization. Every component to good writing. Even historical evidence confirms the power of reading. The Roman emperor, Caligula, banned the reading of The Odyssey because he deemed it dangerous. It expressed Greek ideas of freedom. Six-thousand copies of Tyndale’s New Testament English translation were burned by the English Church. Why? Latin was the language of the clergy giving them complete control of the people. Even Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn couldn’t escape criticism. Some claimed that Twain’s hero was a reprehensible representation for impressionable young minds and removed the book from libraries. Books promote ideas and instigate change.  Reading makes us better communicators, and writing is an influential form of communication. Words have power.

“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” ANNIE PROULX

“Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” WILLIAM FAULKNER

“Constant reading will pull you into a place where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness. It also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn’t, what is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor.” STEPHEN KING

 

Attiyat, Nazzem Mohammad Abdullah. “The Impact of Pleasure Reading on Enhancing Writing Achievement and Reading Comprehension.” Arab World English Journal (AWEJ), vol. 10, no. 1, March 2019, pp. 155-165.

Barras, Colin. “Reading Literary Fiction Boosts Empathy.” New Scientist, vol. 220, no. 2938, 2013, p. 17.

Fitzgerald, Jill, and Timothy Shanahan. “Reading and Writing Relations and Their Development.” Educational Psychologist, vol. 35, no. 1, 2000, pp. 39–50.

Fletcher, P. “Other Minds in the Brain: A Functional Imaging Study of ‘Theory of Mind’ in Story Comprehension.” Cognition, vol. 57, no. 2, 1995, pp. 109–128.

Graham, Steve, and Michael Hebert. “Writing to Read: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Writing and Writing Instruction on Reading.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 81, no. 4, 2011, pp. 710–744.

Graham, Steve, et al. “Reading for Writing: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Reading Interventions on Writing.” Review of Educational Research, vol. 88, no. 2, 2017, pp. 243–284.

MacArthur, Charles A., et al. Handbook of Writing Research. The Guilford Press, 2017.

Mar, Raymond A., et al. “Exploring the Link between Reading Fiction and Empathy: Ruling out Individual Differences and Examining Outcomes.” Communications, vol. 34, no. 4, 2009, pp. 407-428.

Mar, Raymond A. “The Neural Basis of Social Cognition and Story Comprehension”. Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 62, 2011, pp. 103-134.

Pamuji, Arif. “The Correlation Between Reading Achievement and Writing Achievement to the Eight Graders of Bilingual Class At SMP Negeri 1 Palembang.” PREMISE JOURNAL:ISSN Online: 2442-482x, ISSN Printed: 2089-3345, vol. 4, no. 1, 2015.

Singer, Tania. “The Neuronal Basis and Ontogeny of Empathy and Mind Reading: Review of Literature and Implications for Future Research.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 30, no. 6, 2006, pp. 855–863.

Informational Inks

Book Review-BLACK KNIGHT

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Black Knight by Matt Grandis gives new meaning to the phrase ‘little green men’. The banter between Juno and MJ makes for a light summer read. Juno’s spunky attitude conceals abandonment issues, and years of suppressed anger resurface as reality collides with those who dismissed her ‘wild imagination’. But to save her small town from an alien invasion, she will have to embrace her dysfunctional past.

“There’s a dumpster-diving, chicken-loving alien-not-alien who might possibly be dead on your toilet. Just your average Tuesday.”

I needed a light-hearted book after my previous read. Black Knight, filled with humor and wit, provided the emotional lift my soul desired. MJ stole my heart with his ‘alien-not-alien’ naivety and philosophical insight. The hopscotch of past and present sometimes left me dizzy; but, Grandis left my imagination on a cliff, beckoning it to jump into the next adventure.

Disclaimer: NO ‘ALIENS-NOT-ALIENS’ WERE INTERROGATED IN THE READING OF THIS NOVEL

Book Reviews

Book Review-THE VAN HELSING PARADOX

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THE VAN HELSING PARADOX by Evelyn Chartres follows the journey of Clara as she emerges from a life of obscurity into ranks occupied by legends. Set in the early 1900s, she is a hunter trained to kill un-godly perversions. Bright and observant as a child, Clara is formidable as an adult. Curiosity brings her face-to-face with the ultimate enemy, a threat seeking to destroy the organization she serves. Despite access to weapons, her sexuality proves to be her most valuable killer. Ultimately, her training culminates in a deadly stand-off, leading to an unexpected conclusion.

This was an entertaining read. I missed depth, however, among the main character’s relationships. Emotionally, it read cold. I do not advocate for a multitude of descriptions in books, but the lack of adequate details left me piecing together sub-par images. I even read the book a second time to ensure I had not missed important information. Written in third-person, the internal thoughts of Clara marked with quotation marks is redundant and off-putting. By the end, I was left with more questions than answers. Maybe the book’s sequel will offer the answers I seek.

Despite the slow start and unnecessary family dynamics, I thoroughly loved the book’s conclusion!  Creatively, it rocked!

Book Reviews

Book Review-THE COMYN’S CURSE

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THE COMYN’S CURSE by M MacKinnon bridges two fates across five centuries.  One fated to a curse, the other fated to break it.  Aubrey, running from heartbreak and disappointment, chases her heritage into the lands and legends of Scotland under the behest of the “elusive and mysterious” Angus Mackintosh, who has more to gain than lose from Aubrey’s adventure.

Under the guidance of Nessie and her new housemates, Aubrey repairs her broken heart among their unusual comradery.  Their humor and banter are surpassed only by Kate and Fitz, Aubrey’s two best friends.  On the heels of an anticipated marriage, the three women sight-see across Scotland, encounter unexpected danger, and evaluate two new men in Aubrey’s life, neither of which seems destined to break the curse but could break her heart once again.

MacKinnon immerses the reader into the enchanting highlands without drowning him/her in an incoherent world that is difficult to understand.  On multiple occasions, Aubrey, along with Fitz and Kate, experiences a true Scottish breakfast; and, their various reactions are priceless.  Angus’ thick Scottish dialect is easier to understand than anticipated.  He is both endearing and lovable.  I half-expected him to produce a wand revealing that his mysterious air was attributable to his magical qualities.  The pacing and tension are perfect.  The humor is believable and the characters are exceptional.  I do wish the men weren’t so dashingly handsome, though.  I wanted to keep one for myself.

THE COMYN’S CURSE is filled with ghosts, legends, loyalty, and friendship.  Can a curse be broken with love as it seems love is what binds it?

Book Reviews