There are many ways to improve your writing, but one of the most overlooked is simply to start reading more. By seeing what others have to say, not to mention how they are saying it, your own skills can grow by following needful patterns and techniques.
Reading More Can Help Your Spelling
One way reading more can help to make your writing better is by repetition. When you read something over and over, it will begin to stick, and this is never more true than it is with spelling.
When you become an avid reader, you might not know how to pronounce some words, but you’ll know how to spell them – because you have seen them spelled correctly many times while reading.
The same goes for punctuation. Do professional writers use double question marks and exclamation points? If they do, it isn’t often, so follow their lead.
Find Out What’s Popular by Reading Others’ Writing
Another tip to improve your writing by reading is to take notice of what people are writing about. Depending on your personal area of interest, pick up a magazine that has the type of articles you’d like to write.
What topics are the most popular? If you like to write books, find an author you admire and pay attention to subjects covered in their book list.
Develop your own voice by listening to the voice of others.
Pay Attention While You Read
Most writers enjoy reading almost as much as they do writing, but it’s a different matter to really pay attention to the words in front of you. This is an important step in learning to write better from the things you read.
A few things to notice are titles and subtitles (how they are worded, how descriptive they are, etc.), spelling and punctuation as mentioned, and overall content.
On the Glendale Community College website, Dennis Doyle described a few simple methods to focus on while reading. He writes, “Different authors call it different things, but many researchers say that you will improve your comprehension if you somehow ‘preview’ the passage before you actually sit down and read every word.”
To do a preview, he says to:
- Take 30 to 60 seconds
- Look over the title of the chapter
- Look at all the headings, subheadings and marked, italic or dark print
- Look at any pictures or illustrations, charts or graphs
- Quickly skim over the passage, reading the first and last paragraph and glancing at the first sentence of every other paragraph
- Close the book and ask yourself what is the main idea? What kind of writing is it? What is the author’s purpose?
It might not be necessary to go into this much detail for typical reading, but the idea here is to read more attentively, rather than passively.
As a writer, you learn from everything, especially from the things you read. This is why you should take special note of what your colleagues are writing, and how they’re doing it.
If you want to be a success, follow the successful.
To write what you know is another good way to follow the successful. Writing is always easier when you know about your topic from personal experience.