A couple weeks ago I was talking to one of my brothers discussing writing and other things related. My brother, I'll refer to him as Bear for these postings, asked me how could he become a better writer. Now, I don't claim to be a proficient, but it is something I love to do and I'm pretty good at it (not that these posts are any proof).
So, I thought about this for awhile to see if I could see what possibly makes me a better writer. It wasn't too hard a think, the biggest and most influential source would be my reading. Not reading books about "How to Write", but reading books period. I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. I read just about any genre from non-fiction to YA fiction to Historical fiction to textbooks concerning the accounting rules associated with corporations (for me it turned out to be interesting *smiles*).
Now, I'm not guaranteeing anyone who reads is going to be a fabulous writer, but I can say that it helps. It helps to show sentence structure, description, vocabulary. There are so many things a person can learn from sitting down and reading. Any book should do.
If you are one of those people who think, yeah, but I don't like to read, maybe you just have not found the book for you, the book that you start reading and don't pay attention to the fact that you have already finished 100 pages. The book that you look at and don't feel dread when you think of the 300 pages that still remain. Bear isn't such a fan of reading, but recently he discovered some war books that piqued his interest proving that although you may think you aren't a reader, you just may be wrong.
The written word is a wonderful thing. I can get a better image of something from a good author than from a picture. Maybe it's because I'm not much of an artist, but maybe it's because the author describes things that we cannot necessarily see, describes more than just what is seen, but what is felt. There are so many words I have learned from reading books, I've actually grown feelings of love for many of them. I know that may sound silly, but the way they feel when you say them and the way they sound really produce something within me. Some include; coiffed, usurp, tutelage, catastrophic, wistful, whimsical, bouillabaisse and recently xenophobia.
If anyone is looking for a simple way to become a better writer, whether that is a writer of books, a writer of articles, a writer of letters, a writer of distinguished memos, an author of emails or text messages, I recommend reading. There are so many books out there, so many books that could seem like they were written just for you, you never know what you will find between the covers. If Bear can find that reading is enjoyable and not something forced upon him in high school and University, than I know there is hope out there for others.
In parting, I'd like to leave this quote by Mark Twain
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
- Mark Twain