Ruby’s Tips for Newbies: If You Want to Be a Better Writer, Be a Great Reader

Reading classic texts by authors like Dickens, Twain, or Leacock is part of education in many parts of the world today. It was certainly part of the education that I was given in the 80s, and my own daughters are now following a similar path of reading and learning from great texts.

A classical education has traditionally placed great emphasis on reading texts that were chosen for the skill of their authors and the impact the writers’ words have had on society. Students are not only encouraged to read and study great novels, short stories, poems, and plays but often also to emulate the style of the writer they are studying.

We know that both reading good literature and attempting to follow its example can result in better writing for the student. It is especially important for anyone who wants to write for public consumption. If you are going to write a personal blog, submit news stories to the local paper, or write articles on a social blogging website, the best thing you can do is to read. And read a lot!

We know that both reading good literature and attempting to follow its example can result in better writing for the student. It is especially important for anyone who wants to write for public consumption. If you are going to write a personal blog, submit news stories to the local paper, or write articles on a social blogging website, the best thing you can do is to read. And read a lot!

In fact, most publications will expect that you’ve read a number of their issues before submitting a query or manuscript. They know that reading their published material will help you to learn what kind of content they’re looking for.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
~ Stephen King

How Reading Makes You a Better Writer

Reading helps you to develop a stronger sense of the English language. If you are going to write in English, you must read in English. Read news stories online, read magazines and novels, read anything you can get your hands on – even the label on the cereal box!

Reading grammatically correct texts helps you to:

  • Get a better sense of English syntax – the word order of a grammatically correct sentence or question;
  • See words in print that you might only hear in conversation. This is particularly important because English has some strange spellings!
  • Begin to distinguish between homophones, words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings;
  • Get a better grasp of punctuation, capitalization, verb tense, and formation of possessives and plurals – the mechanics of the English language
  • Encounter idioms that might be new to you, and learn how to use descriptive words in a sentence;
  • Develop a feel for the way English flows so you will know when a text sounds natural – and when it doesn’t.

 

Writing Skills: Reading great texts gives you a better grasp of English and makes you a better writer | #writingtips #blogging


Reading great texts gives you a better grasp of English and makes you a better writer
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  • Comments

    1. Profile photo of Sandy KS
      Sandy KS

      I have encourage each of my kids to read. Even taught one to read when the school failed. I do agree the better you can read. The better your writing will become.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Good for you! It’s a lot to take on something like teaching a child to read when they’re not picking it up at school. But it’s one of the most precious gifts you could make for your child.

      2. Profile photo of Sandy KS
        Sandy KS

        When I was younger I always had my nose stuck in a book. Now it stuck to the computer for large print. Lol. Year after year I watched my son struggle with learning to read. By time fourth grade along and he still couldn’t read, well that didn’t sit well with me. I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit there and watch him struggle anymore. The school was pushing him to the next grade. It wasn’t helping him.

      3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        The more time passes, the more I realize that most teachers are completely unprepared to deal with learning disabilities and children whose needs exceed the few basic programs schools generally have in place. And there is little to no funding for these kids, even if they have a diagnosis and the school receives grants for them. I suspect that’s because they pool all those funds in order to pay for things that aren’t eligible for grants.

        Promoting a child from year to year without him mastering basic skills like reading is harmful. But they tend to do it to pass the problem along.

      4. Profile photo of Sandy KS
        Sandy KS

        I noticed teachers are trained to deal with special needs. If a special needs child gets placed with one of those teachers. They will ignore them. Even when the child holds their hand up in class. Parents need to know what is happening. That way they cans step in to get their children the education they deserve. I raised cane when my oldest boy was in school. Also with my daughter. It helped. I was not afraid to the school board if I needed to.

      5. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I have also had to be the “difficult Mom” for some of my kids. It’s not fun but if parents don’t advocate for special needs kids, they often get ignored. Even when the teachers are well trained, resources are scarce. The kids with the biggest needs will often get the funding that should be distributed among all the kids in a class. You have to speak up and ask how your child’s funding is being spent, sometimes.

      6. Profile photo of Sandy KS
        Sandy KS

        Yeah, I learned that the hard way. The school may have the resources and the teachers have the knowledge but they are not willing to give you information to help you. You must do the advocating on your own. It helps to find other parents who are having similar issues to help you learn the way.

      7. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I’ve actually found that most of the special ed/resource teachers are great with information if you ask. But the classroom teachers often need to be educated themselves – sometimes a lot. And even the resource teachers often have little experience with the disabilities our kids have. It’s all new to them too.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Yes, exactly. Vocabulary, turns of phrase, style, and so much more can come from reading a skilled and respected author.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I love to read both fiction and non-fiction too. There were several years when I was a teen when most of the books I read were biographies or non-fiction.

      1. Profile photo of John
        John

        Reading this blog makes me feel like I’m learning again.
        The past few days I’m not into writing. I’m tired and exhausted too, besides my regular job. I can’t even concept a simple design. Lol!

    2. Profile photo of Gil Camporazo
      Gil Camporazo

      Perfect! I read to lead. I read to develop a skill in writing. I read to be informed, to be entertained and to be educated. What Francis Bacon writes is my ever constant reminder as a writer and I quote, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        That’s a fabulous quote! And how true that writing makes us more “exact!” It does take discipline and an eye for detail to be a good writer.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Being read to is also beneficial with young people. Or adults, for that matter! I love a good audiobook 🙂

    3. Profile photo of Gina145
      Gina145

      When I was younger I used to read a lot. Sadly as time passed I seemed to find less and less time for it, and now most of my reading is done online. I’ve been trying to find more time for books lately. Thanks for reminding me how important it is.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I have the same problem, Gina. I think I’ll try to get more audiobooks – or at least to remember to listen to the ones I already have! It’s one way to read when I can’t be sitting down with a book in hand.

      2. Profile photo of Gina145
        Gina145

        I’ve never really been a huge fan of audio books. I find it hard to concentrate on audio because I always feel like I need to do something physical at the same time, and that usually proves to be a distraction.

      3. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I had the same problem when I first started listening to audiobooks. But I find that I can listen while I’m doing repetitive work like folding laundry. I also enjoy listening when I might otherwise watch TV – when I’m eating lunch, for example, or when I crochet.

      4. Profile photo of Gina145
        Gina145

        The problem is I’m not likely to stop watching the TV programs I enjoy and that’s when I do all my knitting. And my Mom listens to talk radio all day, so I can’t listen to ebooks and eat my meals with her. I don’t think I could listen to ebooks while working on my bonsai trees either because I need to concentrate on what I’m doing. I’ll just have to find more time for real books.

    4. Profile photo of Sherry Smith
      Sherry Smith

      I love to read and feel like I am at home in a library. If I could live in a library or bookstore I would be the happiest person on earth. I love classics and newer material. I love to find a new favorite author and a new favorite book.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Oh, I would love to live in a space that was filled with books! We used to have so many of them but sadly when my son was little, he damaged most of them. We eventually stopped buying books altogether. Now I borrow from the library or read online. It’s pretty rare I actually buy a hard copy of a book for myself.

    5. Profile photo of Suny
      Suny

      I agree, by reading your articles I can certainly become a writer if not a better one. Yes I would like to read your tips on how to become a better writer. Thanks for everything.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        Thank you for the compliment, Suny! And I hope you’ll find plenty of help with your writing, both in reading my articles and the posts of others on the internet.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I love that aspect of the internet so much: we read, we learn, we practise, and then we write to share what works for us 🙂

    6. Profile photo of Barbara Radisavljevic
      Barbara Radisavljevic

      My problem is when I start reading I don’t want to stop to write. I’ve read at least five books in the past week, in addition to reading a lot of other blog posts. You can really learn a lot about blogging by reading the posts of others. You can learn what to do and what not to do.

      Reading to a child is one of the best ways parents can expose their children to vocabulary and language that will help with reading later on. Just choose books carefully, making sure they are well-written so your children will hear the right kind of language patterns to follow.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I couldn’t agree more about the choice of literature for kids. My daughters skipped right on over Dr Seuss because they were busy listening to Jane Eyre and Little Women, and the unabridged Brothers Grimm. My oldest even started reading these texts to the younger ones almost as soon as she could read herself.

    7. Profile photo of GL Brown
      GL Brown

      I still recall the reading challenge in first grade and reading w my parents … we had two winners and “won” a trip to the zoo w the teacher. The trip was a highlight childhood memory (because this was a teacher we all loved, not the winning part) but more importantly reinforced loving to read.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        I have to admit that I learned to read and to love reading without my teachers ever offering any rewards. The first time I can remember any such challenge was when I was in grade 7. Our entire school was to participate in a classroom by classroom challenge to see who would read the most books. It was a spectacular failure. Only one class performed well, but that was mainly because the teacher made extra class time for reading and would chastise students who weren’t getting enough books read.

        I think such challenges are great on a small scale in a class with a much-loved teacher, as yours was. But she could have chosen many other ways to motivate you to read (and probably did!) Competition around reading is, to my mind, generally unproductive. So is setting quotas that suggest there’s an ideal amount of reading to do in a day, after which one should stop. What we need to model is simply the love of reading and literature and the usefulness of reading many different kinds of texts.

    8. Profile photo of ParkerRose
      ParkerRose

      Great article, and so true! Every book I have ever read about how to be a good writer, also tells you to read, read, read! Fiction, non-fiction anything! Reading to your path to being a good writer.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        This is why we are told to read to small children: because hearing the flow of written English makes them familiar with it. Later, when they can read the words for themselves, they are already familiar with the structure of a book, the concept of dialogue, and many other aspects of the written word. It makes them both better readers and better writers.

      1. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
        Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

        So true! Writing can often be just as much about using accepted forms and conventions as it is about creativity. If we don’t read, we won’t learn those forms and conventions. And we won’t be able to provide the readers what they expect.

    9. Profile photo of Coral Levang
      Coral Levang

      I agree wholeheartedly! As well, I would like to see included in the curricula in schools today some of the theory behind the subjects. Unfortunately, we have Google and online answers for everything, which requires little effort. Even research using technology is too labor-intensive for some folks nowadays!

    10. Profile photo of Kyla Matton Osborne
      Kyla Matton Osborne Post author

      That’s one of the reasons we homeschooled for six years. Our girls’ teachers were “teaching to the test,” giving all the kids a subjective mark without justification, teaching them how to essentially cheat in order to pass a test, etc. Nobody was actually concerned with real learning – just with “educating” the kids. Similarly, there was little real love of books among the teachers. They just took the kids to the library and dumped them off so they could have a free period.

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