Sunday, January 15, 2006

The link between reading and writing

A topic I have always found intriguing is the relation between reading and writing. As I've said in earlier postings, I've been an avid reader as long as I can remember (with exception to my partying years, when I strayed from the fold). I've also been a writer for a very long time. I always enjoyed making up stories - playing dolls or make believe was my favorite pastime as a child. I don't recall when I wrote my first story, however. I can remember writing a story in forth grade or so, and a poem in sixth grade that earned me recognition from my teacher and the class; despite my lack of memories to support the notion, however, I feel that I must have been writing by that time, at least enough to get noticed. In seventh and eighth grades I wrote a lot of poetry and kept a journal quite devotedly, and by ninth grade my stories had become longer and more complex. It was in ninth or tenth grade that I wrote my first novel.

No one ever taught me how to write. In fact, I often found in Language Arts and English classes that while I didn't know the proper terms for parts of language or the specifics on how to diagram a sentence, I already had the gist of how to accurately create quite complex sentences. I had simply read so many sentences already that I knew how they were supposed to go. As a result, I breezed through English classes, from the most basic to the most difficult.

Instilling a love for reading in children is so important. Quite frankly, who cares if a child can diagram a sentence, if he or she instinctively knows how to create it - instinctively knows what is right or wrong. And learning through reading is so much more interesting than learning via dry, useless classroom exercises.

Quite frankly, I can't imagine anyone loving to write who hasn't loved reading too. Anyone who hasn't loved reading probably hasn't read a lot, and anyone who hasn't read a lot is going to have to think more of logistics while they write...which takes most of the fun out of the creative process. (Or they'll just write really badly. I see that from some freelance writers, and it really makes me wonder how they get work at all...)

At any rate, the moral of this story is, reading and writing do go hand-in-hand. You can probably have a reader without a writer, but you just won't have a writer who's not a reader.

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