First You Read

To become a good writer you must read good writing. When you consistently read well-written articles, books, and other literature, you develop an ear for what constitutes a well-written piece. You will recognize it in your own writing and you will know when you haven’t achieved it and must continue to work and revise.

Read different genres. Read good scholarly articles to see how to present complex information in an engaging way that is easily understood. Read good essays to see how to present a compelling, well-thought out argument. Read good literary prose to see how the narrative ebbs and flows and carries the reader along. Read good poetry to hear the music in the lines and to understand the importance of each word.

Read as a writer. Notice the language, the organization, the use of literary devices – metaphor, simile, alliteration. Think about the choices the writer made and what those choices accomplish. How did the writer engage you and keep you engaged? Are there places that trip you up or where you find your mind wandering away from the page? Why? What makes the piece interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking?

Read for the joy of reading. The more you understand it – the art and craft of writing – the more you’ll appreciate it.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

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