Hone Your Writing Skills Through Reading: A Grammar and Punctuation Love Story
You hear it all the time–practice makes perfect. In the world of writing, this translates into “He who writes the most, writes the best.”
Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer who scribbled Tarzan of the Apes to life said it best:
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”
Practicing the fine art of writing is one sure-fire way to help creative writers flex their literary muscles and hone their word-manipulation skills. There’s another way too, however, that’s often overlooked. And this post is written with that in mind.
It’s been my observation that the best writers down through history were some of the more prolific readers too. Read any interview with your favorite literary giant, and odds will get you 10-to-1 that he or she is an avid reader as well as a writer.
Ernest Hemingway could spout a list longer than a stack of cats of writers who influenced his work–everyone from Mark Twain to Shakespeare to Mozart. He even tossed in painters like Van Gogh and Cezanne for good measure.
But even if your tastes run more contemporary than classic–if you’re more Amy Tan than Mark Twain or Stephen King than Shakespeare–there’s still plenty of writing inspiration to be gleaned from indulging. And sometimes you’ll find it in the oddest of places.
The New York Times published an article last month about one of the most unlikely sources of writer inspiration–the game Dungeons and Dragons. According to The Times, the storytelling involved in this epic, role-playing game has helped mold an entire generation of contemporary writers, among them Bret Hartinger, author of “Geography Club” and China Mieville, of “The City & the City.”
Which goes to prove that practice of any kind in the literary trade will net you a big return as a writer. So, if you’re not into devouring novels or true crime or even magazines and newspapers, you can still find ways to spin the pastimes that do interest you into reading practice. If you’re an Internet guru who spends your downtime researching new topics on the Web or visiting favorite websites, for instance, you’re still getting your daily dose of grammar and punctuation. You just may not realize it.
Most writers love to write, but they love to read, as well. It’s a romance as old as Moby Dick, himself. As a contemporary writer of Internet content, don’t overlook this most ancient form of literary training. Your work will shine more brightly with every page you devour.
Anne G is an avid Internet stalker of fine writings and interesting people. She enjoys big words, grand ideas, and lots of punctuation.