Wanna Write? Read Voraciously.

A writing habit is cultivated by two things:

  1. Writing a lot.
  2. Reading even more.

The more you write, the more you get to practice flexing vocabulary and voice as well as how to put your ideas into clear thoughts. The more you read, the more you capture lessons about tone, sentence structure, cadence, and idea flow.  And the more you do both, the more everything you touch, see, hear, and read becomes the seed of something else to write about.

There are some great posts out there about cultivating a writing habit, like these:

These practices apply whether you’re blogging or penning a novel. Writing is an active discipline. You have to do it. Often.

But absorbing the written word in lots of different forms makes you a better writer. Period. Read blogs, articles, business books, biographies, fiction, whatever suits your fancy right now.

Not sure what to read? I piled a bunch of recommendations for books in my Twitter favorites. Scroll through them and you’ll find lots that have been tossed to me by my Twitter friends.  And I keep an Evernote file called “Book List” where I capture all the titles I haven’t read, but want to, so I’m always prepared at the bookstore or the library.

Reading more helps you identify good writing AND bad writing, and how to tell the difference between the two. You’ll start learning to spot words that are smooth to read versus overly dense, the pace of delivering ideas and organizing them in a flow, length of sentences that are easy or hard to read, vocabulary that’s too high brow or not nuanced enough.

Julien Smith tells you how to read a book a week in 2010. I probably average that if not more, in addition to all the blogs I read and online articles, news, whitepapers, etc. I read a ton, and I write every day. If you hate to read, that’s going to be harder for you, but it’s important nonetheless.

If delivering content on the web in written form is something you seriously aspire to – for the sake of contribution of ideas or to make money or both – you’ d better learn what it takes to write well, and reading is an important step to doing just that.

There is no shortcut.

Are you a writer? Reader? Both? Do you agree? What are you reading right now?

image by moriza

  • http://talesofadisorderedeater.org/ Melissa

    Voracious reader/consumer of all things written here, as well, and I couldn’t agree more. I get a lot of my blog topics from things I read — things that inspire me, or piss me off. In addition to being a good source of knowledge, I simply feel smarter and more well-versed when I know what’s going on in the world around me. And I think that translates into my writing, as well. My style has evolved over the years, likely in proportion to what I am reading (in print or online).
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Body Image Role Models of Olympic Proportions =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I think you’re absolutely right. Writing comes from ideas, which come from other ideas and thoughts that we’re exposed to. It stands to reason that the more we absorb, the more refined our own communication can be.

  • http://talesofadisorderedeater.org/ Melissa

    Voracious reader/consumer of all things written here, as well, and I couldn’t agree more. I get a lot of my blog topics from things I read — things that inspire me, or piss me off. In addition to being a good source of knowledge, I simply feel smarter and more well-versed when I know what’s going on in the world around me. And I think that translates into my writing, as well. My style has evolved over the years, likely in proportion to what I am reading (in print or online).
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Body Image Role Models of Olympic Proportions =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I think you’re absolutely right. Writing comes from ideas, which come from other ideas and thoughts that we’re exposed to. It stands to reason that the more we absorb, the more refined our own communication can be.

  • Jen Zingsheim

    I agree completely. I read constantly, fiction and non-fiction, and I’m in a book club. I feel so passionately about reading being fundamental to good writing that one of the questions I’ll ask when interviewing potential hires is what was the last (non-classwork related) book they read, when they read it, etc. It’s not a make or break question, but the bottom line is our analysts read all day every day and need to write clearly. If they don’t like reading, well, that could be a problem…

    What am I reading right now? Buzz Aldrin’s autobiography–Magnificent Desolation; As We Are Now (book club book); and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Yes, all three. I don’t watch much television… ;-)

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for the recommendations, Jen. I’m always looking for great books to read. And I like the idea about asking that in an interview. I might just have to borrow that one. ;)

  • Jen Zingsheim

    I agree completely. I read constantly, fiction and non-fiction, and I’m in a book club. I feel so passionately about reading being fundamental to good writing that one of the questions I’ll ask when interviewing potential hires is what was the last (non-classwork related) book they read, when they read it, etc. It’s not a make or break question, but the bottom line is our analysts read all day every day and need to write clearly. If they don’t like reading, well, that could be a problem…

    What am I reading right now? Buzz Aldrin’s autobiography–Magnificent Desolation; As We Are Now (book club book); and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Yes, all three. I don’t watch much television… ;-)

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for the recommendations, Jen. I’m always looking for great books to read. And I like the idea about asking that in an interview. I might just have to borrow that one. ;)

  • Polly Wade

    I couldn’t agree more. This is probably the one thing I emphasize most with people who ask me about improving their writing. My personal favorite has always been the WSJ — great for when you’re looking to write more succinctly. I also like the column 4 feature (which really isn’t in column 4 anymore, but I don’t know what else to call it). Column 4 writers do a fabulous job of bringing potentially dry stories to life.

    One of my personal goals is to read more fiction … I like newspapers, history, biographies, but fiction seems to take a back seat. I also like to re-read books that I loved as a child (like the Little House series). While I do that mostly for relaxation, it also helps encourage me to keep things simple. When you write a lot for consultants, as I do, it’s easy to get bogged down with jargon.

    • Amber Naslund

      I have a PILE of fiction recommendations for you, if you like. :) I read a ton. Depends on what you’re into, but I have lots of stuff on my bookshelves that I’d be more than happy to share.

      • Polly Wade

        If you have a few particular favorites from your pile of recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Thanks! (great blog, btw)

    • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

      lol…one of my personal goals is to read more non-fiction. ;)

  • Polly Wade

    I couldn’t agree more. This is probably the one thing I emphasize most with people who ask me about improving their writing. My personal favorite has always been the WSJ — great for when you’re looking to write more succinctly. I also like the column 4 feature (which really isn’t in column 4 anymore, but I don’t know what else to call it). Column 4 writers do a fabulous job of bringing potentially dry stories to life.

    One of my personal goals is to read more fiction … I like newspapers, history, biographies, but fiction seems to take a back seat. I also like to re-read books that I loved as a child (like the Little House series). While I do that mostly for relaxation, it also helps encourage me to keep things simple. When you write a lot for consultants, as I do, it’s easy to get bogged down with jargon.

    • Amber Naslund

      I have a PILE of fiction recommendations for you, if you like. :) I read a ton. Depends on what you’re into, but I have lots of stuff on my bookshelves that I’d be more than happy to share.

      • Polly Wade

        If you have a few particular favorites from your pile of recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Thanks! (great blog, btw)

    • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

      lol…one of my personal goals is to read more non-fiction. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/mckra1g mckra1g

    Couldn’t agree more with your post. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he says the very same thing. Our writing is a product of not only our inner voice, but by the the way it is shaped by external influences. The only way to absorb those influences is to read them. Our style, content, message…all are shaped through exposure to the variety of other voices around us.

    BTW, Polly, I have visited each of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homes with the exception of the one in Independence, KS (even the one in Burr Oak, where Grace was born).
    .-= mckra1g´s last blog ..mckra1g: Being present fully. Good question! RT @LewisHowes: What is the most important thing in your life right now? =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I love King’s book. It’s really a great one, and a must for serious writers. I like the bits about writing more than the bits about his biography, but good stuff either way.

    • Polly Wade

      I’ve thought about taking an Ingalls tour myself … did you enjoy your site visits?

  • http://twitter.com/mckra1g mckra1g

    Couldn’t agree more with your post. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he says the very same thing. Our writing is a product of not only our inner voice, but by the the way it is shaped by external influences. The only way to absorb those influences is to read them. Our style, content, message…all are shaped through exposure to the variety of other voices around us.

    BTW, Polly, I have visited each of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s homes with the exception of the one in Independence, KS (even the one in Burr Oak, where Grace was born).
    .-= mckra1g´s last blog ..mckra1g: Being present fully. Good question! RT @LewisHowes: What is the most important thing in your life right now? =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      I love King’s book. It’s really a great one, and a must for serious writers. I like the bits about writing more than the bits about his biography, but good stuff either way.

    • Polly Wade

      I’ve thought about taking an Ingalls tour myself … did you enjoy your site visits?

  • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

    Great post. I’ve been keeping a “life list” since 1995. It’s interesting to look back at what I was reading, when. I can tell, w/o looking at the date, when I had a baby, when we built our house, etc. my average is 82/year.

    Jen, if you read a lot, I don’t see when you’d have much time for television. Honestly, it’s hard to miss it when one has one’s nose in a book. :)

    • Amber Naslund

      I like the idea of keeping a list, Cindy. Pretty cool. I’ve never done it, but my bursting, overflowing bookshelves are my list, I guess. :)

  • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

    Great post. I’ve been keeping a “life list” since 1995. It’s interesting to look back at what I was reading, when. I can tell, w/o looking at the date, when I had a baby, when we built our house, etc. my average is 82/year.

    Jen, if you read a lot, I don’t see when you’d have much time for television. Honestly, it’s hard to miss it when one has one’s nose in a book. :)

    • Amber Naslund

      I like the idea of keeping a list, Cindy. Pretty cool. I’ve never done it, but my bursting, overflowing bookshelves are my list, I guess. :)

  • http://www.simplewebtoolbox.com Bonnie Landau

    Great post! I’ve been an avid reader for 30 years, and love having my Google Reader to track great blogs (like this one…) so I can read even more.

    Cindy, I totally agree about your TV comment. I hardly ever watch TV, but read at least an hour a day, if not more. My friends tease me because I always carry reading material wherever I go, and I always buy books instead of using the library so I can make notes in the margins.
    .-= Bonnie Landau´s last blog ..11 Ways to Start Conversations on Twitter =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Bonnie, I’m a buyer too. Though I’ll often give fiction books to the library if I’ve finished them and won’t likely read them again. And I *always* have books with me. In my work bag, car, all over the house… you just never know when you need something to read.

  • http://www.simplewebtoolbox.com Bonnie Landau

    Great post! I’ve been an avid reader for 30 years, and love having my Google Reader to track great blogs (like this one…) so I can read even more.

    Cindy, I totally agree about your TV comment. I hardly ever watch TV, but read at least an hour a day, if not more. My friends tease me because I always carry reading material wherever I go, and I always buy books instead of using the library so I can make notes in the margins.
    .-= Bonnie Landau´s last blog ..11 Ways to Start Conversations on Twitter =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Bonnie, I’m a buyer too. Though I’ll often give fiction books to the library if I’ve finished them and won’t likely read them again. And I *always* have books with me. In my work bag, car, all over the house… you just never know when you need something to read.

  • http://www.bossygirls.blogspot.com Caitlin

    I’m with you on this one.
    Sadly, there’s no shortcut to writing which means wonderful hours on end of reading books.
    I am reading “Paint it Black” by Janet Fitch because I just loved White Oleander. This one is shaping up to have a great main character as well. I love books that feature girls with an attitude.
    .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..The Weekend In A Few Words. False Eyelashes, Fresh Tortillas And Eviction. =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for the recommendations, Caitlin. Appreciate it!

  • http://www.bossygirls.blogspot.com Caitlin

    I’m with you on this one.
    Sadly, there’s no shortcut to writing which means wonderful hours on end of reading books.
    I am reading “Paint it Black” by Janet Fitch because I just loved White Oleander. This one is shaping up to have a great main character as well. I love books that feature girls with an attitude.
    .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..The Weekend In A Few Words. False Eyelashes, Fresh Tortillas And Eviction. =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Thanks for the recommendations, Caitlin. Appreciate it!

  • http://www.sajewilliams.com Saje Williams

    Indeed. I’ve been a voracious reader since I first learned how to read. I prefer fiction but one of the great things about the web is the plethora of websites one can use for background or research on just about anything under the sun. Just last night I was reading up on the history of Kenpo karate because I was introducing a character to the art. Lucky monster–she doesn’t have to take the time to learn it, she can just absorb it from a master by touch.

    I’ve been reading an average of a book a day since I was in 5th or 6th grade. And even then few of them were “kid’s” books. My childhood reading material was more often the works of Robert Heinlein, J.R. R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Fred SaberhagenAll , Philip Jose Farmer, or Alan Dean Foster than anything specifically written for kids.

    Was it any wonder that I decided to become an author when I was in 4th grade?

    It’s virtually guaranteed that all great authors started out and most likely remained readers throughout their lives. It’s a symptom of a love affair with words, with language, that makes all other affairs of the heart pale by comparison.

    • Amber Naslund

      I suppose I’m more of a consumer of information at large, and the written form happens to be my choice more often than not. Though lately I’ve enjoyed audiobooks too. As for “kids’” books, I read them all the time. My little one gives me an excuse for the really young stuff, and I’ve enjoyed several novels intended for teens in recent years. Good writing is still engaging, no matter the audience.

  • http://www.sajewilliams.com Saje Williams

    Indeed. I’ve been a voracious reader since I first learned how to read. I prefer fiction but one of the great things about the web is the plethora of websites one can use for background or research on just about anything under the sun. Just last night I was reading up on the history of Kenpo karate because I was introducing a character to the art. Lucky monster–she doesn’t have to take the time to learn it, she can just absorb it from a master by touch.

    I’ve been reading an average of a book a day since I was in 5th or 6th grade. And even then few of them were “kid’s” books. My childhood reading material was more often the works of Robert Heinlein, J.R. R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Fred SaberhagenAll , Philip Jose Farmer, or Alan Dean Foster than anything specifically written for kids.

    Was it any wonder that I decided to become an author when I was in 4th grade?

    It’s virtually guaranteed that all great authors started out and most likely remained readers throughout their lives. It’s a symptom of a love affair with words, with language, that makes all other affairs of the heart pale by comparison.

    • Amber Naslund

      I suppose I’m more of a consumer of information at large, and the written form happens to be my choice more often than not. Though lately I’ve enjoyed audiobooks too. As for “kids’” books, I read them all the time. My little one gives me an excuse for the really young stuff, and I’ve enjoyed several novels intended for teens in recent years. Good writing is still engaging, no matter the audience.

  • http://www.Lucythorpe.wordpress.com Lucy Thorpe

    I agree too, but so many people don’t get it. You have to read both for the love of it and critically, dissecting how it is done and even jotting down phrases that you love.
    I have been admiring a site which puts up the cover of what the blogger is reading that week. That strikes me as a good way of passing on some advertising love and giving ideas to your readers for their book-list. I like blogs that review business books too then I don’t have to read them all !
    .-= Lucy Thorpe´s last blog ..Web wonder!The woman behind one of the UK’s top websites. =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Hi Lucy, I like the reviews too. But I find that I often take something different away from the books that others review, so I end up reading them for myself anyway. It’s finding my own nugget or two to walk away with that always makes me spend the time.

  • http://www.Lucythorpe.wordpress.com Lucy Thorpe

    I agree too, but so many people don’t get it. You have to read both for the love of it and critically, dissecting how it is done and even jotting down phrases that you love.
    I have been admiring a site which puts up the cover of what the blogger is reading that week. That strikes me as a good way of passing on some advertising love and giving ideas to your readers for their book-list. I like blogs that review business books too then I don’t have to read them all !
    .-= Lucy Thorpe´s last blog ..Web wonder!The woman behind one of the UK’s top websites. =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Hi Lucy, I like the reviews too. But I find that I often take something different away from the books that others review, so I end up reading them for myself anyway. It’s finding my own nugget or two to walk away with that always makes me spend the time.

  • http://writingtherail.com Linda Bateman

    Perfect. Our clients are constantly asking us how to write good blog posts and such for their social media programs. I am constantly amazed at the folks who tell me they don’t have time to read other blogs and posts in their industry. Sadly, with most content we see produced for blogs on the internet, it is easy to spot those that simply don’t read as much as they should. Spot on with this post!
    .-= Linda Bateman´s last blog ..Become.com – Affinity Index Ranking Technology is Patent Approved =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      That’s a tough one. I wonder why we recognize we have to practice the game to be a good athlete, but it’s not so clear that we have to consume and practice writing in order to put out good product. Not as obvious that writing requires action, perhaps? Feels fluffy? But you’ve got it right, Linda. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://writingtherail.com Linda Bateman

    Perfect. Our clients are constantly asking us how to write good blog posts and such for their social media programs. I am constantly amazed at the folks who tell me they don’t have time to read other blogs and posts in their industry. Sadly, with most content we see produced for blogs on the internet, it is easy to spot those that simply don’t read as much as they should. Spot on with this post!
    .-= Linda Bateman´s last blog ..Become.com – Affinity Index Ranking Technology is Patent Approved =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      That’s a tough one. I wonder why we recognize we have to practice the game to be a good athlete, but it’s not so clear that we have to consume and practice writing in order to put out good product. Not as obvious that writing requires action, perhaps? Feels fluffy? But you’ve got it right, Linda. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://lifedestiny.net Tanner @ Life Destiny

    I read so much so that sometimes it gets in the way of my writing. Tough I get so much inspiration from what I read, I usually have my OneNote post calendar open and get about 3-4 post ideas from one book.

    I love reading, and writing.

    • Amber Naslund

      Ah yes, there is such thing as idea overload! :) But that’s what notebooks and Evernote (and for you OneNote) are for, right?

  • http://lifedestiny.net Tanner @ Life Destiny

    I read so much so that sometimes it gets in the way of my writing. Tough I get so much inspiration from what I read, I usually have my OneNote post calendar open and get about 3-4 post ideas from one book.

    I love reading, and writing.

    • Amber Naslund

      Ah yes, there is such thing as idea overload! :) But that’s what notebooks and Evernote (and for you OneNote) are for, right?

  • http://www.acfblog.com Barbara

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. Just like anything else, writing takes practice. I try to read everyday and have definitely noticed an improvement in my writing because of it.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Success With Search Engines =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Awesome, Barbara. Anything particular you’re reading or have read recently that you think helped in a specific way?

  • http://www.acfblog.com Barbara

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. Just like anything else, writing takes practice. I try to read everyday and have definitely noticed an improvement in my writing because of it.
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..Success With Search Engines =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Awesome, Barbara. Anything particular you’re reading or have read recently that you think helped in a specific way?

  • http://www.timgier.com Tim Gier

    My mother instilled in me a love of reading, by reading to me herself, when I was too young to read on my own. Only one of the many terrific things that she has done for me over the years.

    This point, from the Copyblogger link, resonates with me:

    If you want people to want to read what you write, then you should (…) Be more like Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Gary Vaynerchuk. They are opinionated, have a unique style, and are prone to emotional outbursts.

    Thanks for posting this, lots & lots of good stuff!!
    .-= Tim Gier´s last blog ..Can you tell me little about yourself? =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Hi Tim, my mom read to me tons as a kid, too, and I always remember being surrounded by books. It’s something I’m hoping I can pass on to my daughter, too. She’s already at the point where bedtime just isn’t possible until we’ve read a few stories. :)

      • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

        People are always asking us what tricks we used to get our kids to love reading. I don’t know how to answer them, as we never used any “tricks”. We just read…a LOT!! And I’m sure this is going to sound sacrilegious in this context, but we don’t read aloud to them every night, either. :( Like you, though, we have filled our home with good books. When we got married, we both knew we’d be “book poor” (all our $ going for said books). Since adding home schooling to the mix, using a curriculum totally based on real books, we’ve only added to the collection by 100′s. :) I think I’d better get started on that photo inventory. If anything happened to our home, I’d never be able to make a list of all the books.

  • http://www.timgier.com Tim Gier

    My mother instilled in me a love of reading, by reading to me herself, when I was too young to read on my own. Only one of the many terrific things that she has done for me over the years.

    This point, from the Copyblogger link, resonates with me:

    If you want people to want to read what you write, then you should (…) Be more like Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Gary Vaynerchuk. They are opinionated, have a unique style, and are prone to emotional outbursts.

    Thanks for posting this, lots & lots of good stuff!!
    .-= Tim Gier´s last blog ..Can you tell me little about yourself? =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      Hi Tim, my mom read to me tons as a kid, too, and I always remember being surrounded by books. It’s something I’m hoping I can pass on to my daughter, too. She’s already at the point where bedtime just isn’t possible until we’ve read a few stories. :)

      • http://www.streamsidefarm.com Cindy C.

        People are always asking us what tricks we used to get our kids to love reading. I don’t know how to answer them, as we never used any “tricks”. We just read…a LOT!! And I’m sure this is going to sound sacrilegious in this context, but we don’t read aloud to them every night, either. :( Like you, though, we have filled our home with good books. When we got married, we both knew we’d be “book poor” (all our $ going for said books). Since adding home schooling to the mix, using a curriculum totally based on real books, we’ve only added to the collection by 100′s. :) I think I’d better get started on that photo inventory. If anything happened to our home, I’d never be able to make a list of all the books.

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com Jamie Favreau

    I tend to read more then write but I need to do both of more. I should pick up Stephen King’s book On Writing. Sounds like a good read. I know I need to improve on the editing process. I have the annoying extra words like that and this… I think if I read and wrote more it would improve greatly.
    .-= Jamie Favreau´s last blog ..Social Media to Save the NHL (Last installment a bit late) =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      A critical editing eye is something you develop continually. I’m always editing. And it’s never perfect. But the practice and evolution is important! Thanks for making that point.

  • http://jamiefavreau.wordpress.com Jamie Favreau

    I tend to read more then write but I need to do both of more. I should pick up Stephen King’s book On Writing. Sounds like a good read. I know I need to improve on the editing process. I have the annoying extra words like that and this… I think if I read and wrote more it would improve greatly.
    .-= Jamie Favreau´s last blog ..Social Media to Save the NHL (Last installment a bit late) =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      A critical editing eye is something you develop continually. I’m always editing. And it’s never perfect. But the practice and evolution is important! Thanks for making that point.

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  • http://e6n1.blogspot.com/ e.lee

    Its a given, you have to read what you want to write and write what you want to read.
    great post!
    .-= e.lee´s last blog ..Compelling Readability =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      It’s a given perhaps to us, but I still talk to a lot of people that want to be great writers or bloggers, but that say they don’t have time or interest in reading. To me, the two have to go hand in hand. But maybe I’m wrong?

  • http://e6n1.blogspot.com/ e.lee

    Its a given, you have to read what you want to write and write what you want to read.
    great post!
    .-= e.lee´s last blog ..Compelling Readability =-.

    • Amber Naslund

      It’s a given perhaps to us, but I still talk to a lot of people that want to be great writers or bloggers, but that say they don’t have time or interest in reading. To me, the two have to go hand in hand. But maybe I’m wrong?

  • http://megturner.com Meg Turner

    As a former fifth grade teacher in the 90′s, I struggled with how to teach reading and writing to ten-year olds. Everything I studied and read on the topic said the same thing: to be a good writer you must read (and write) daily.

    I read picture books to my students and believe it or not, they actually liked this. I also gave them 30 min/day to read whatever they wanted. (You build an appropriate library of books to choose from, start out with 5 min. and gradually increase it. This is an exercise in behavior reinforcement, for as you might guess, given 30 min to read doesn’t always excite a 5th grader right off the bat.)

    I taught them to write for an audience and to “peer review”their first drafts. When their classmates asked questions to clarify this or that in their writing, that was their clue to go back and refine that part. I wonder if any of them are bloggers now?

    • Amber Naslund

      Meg, I wonder! But I love that reading and writing became so much a part of what you instilled in your students. My sister is an English teacher, and I know she’s always learning more about how to get her high school kids to embrace reading and writing. Good stuff.

      • http://megturner.blogspot.com/2010/02/read-to-write-memories-of-fifth-grade.html Meg Turner

        Thanks, Amber. Good for your sister. I wouldn’t attempt to tackle High School! 5th grade was as high as I ever wanted to go!

        Your post inspired me to write about this in my blog…

        I am still trying to find my way in the blogosphere. I love writing, and people tell me they enjoy reading my posts, but I need to develop a niche and not sure what to choose. Now, it’s just a mix-match of stuff that catches my interest, or inspires me now and then!
        .-= Meg Turner´s last blog ..Read to Write: Memories of a Fifth Grade Teacher =-.

  • http://megturner.com Meg Turner

    As a former fifth grade teacher in the 90′s, I struggled with how to teach reading and writing to ten-year olds. Everything I studied and read on the topic said the same thing: to be a good writer you must read (and write) daily.

    I read picture books to my students and believe it or not, they actually liked this. I also gave them 30 min/day to read whatever they wanted. (You build an appropriate library of books to choose from, start out with 5 min. and gradually increase it. This is an exercise in behavior reinforcement, for as you might guess, given 30 min to read doesn’t always excite a 5th grader right off the bat.)

    I taught them to write for an audience and to “peer review”their first drafts. When their classmates asked questions to clarify this or that in their writing, that was their clue to go back and refine that part. I wonder if any of them are bloggers now?

    • Amber Naslund

      Meg, I wonder! But I love that reading and writing became so much a part of what you instilled in your students. My sister is an English teacher, and I know she’s always learning more about how to get her high school kids to embrace reading and writing. Good stuff.

      • http://megturner.blogspot.com/2010/02/read-to-write-memories-of-fifth-grade.html Meg Turner

        Thanks, Amber. Good for your sister. I wouldn’t attempt to tackle High School! 5th grade was as high as I ever wanted to go!

        Your post inspired me to write about this in my blog…

        I am still trying to find my way in the blogosphere. I love writing, and people tell me they enjoy reading my posts, but I need to develop a niche and not sure what to choose. Now, it’s just a mix-match of stuff that catches my interest, or inspires me now and then!
        .-= Meg Turner´s last blog ..Read to Write: Memories of a Fifth Grade Teacher =-.

  • http://www.potluckmama.wordpress.com Beth Coetzee

    I was reading on the school bus by second grade. In fifth grade, I mastered the art of reading upside down so I could stealthily read the top half of my fiction under my desk as the teacher droned on about…well, I’m not sure.

    By high school, I dreamed of becoming a HS English teacher (as yet unrealized). In college, I double-majored in English Lit and History…no shortage of reading OR writing assignments!

    Then I go and marry someone who actually believes it’s rude to read in front of company. Go figure.

    I’m reading much more lately in preparation for a role shift. I love it, but still need to work on structuring my time to accommodate it. I’ve use an RSS reader, but blogging machines like you (Amber) ensure that I’m never caught up!

    Current fiction: Eat, Love, Pray
    Current audiobook: 5 Habits of Highly Successful Families (book club read)

  • http://www.potluckmama.wordpress.com Beth Coetzee

    my bad…Eat, Pray, Love.

  • http://www.potluckmama.wordpress.com Beth Coetzee

    I was reading on the school bus by second grade. In fifth grade, I mastered the art of reading upside down so I could stealthily read the top half of my fiction under my desk as the teacher droned on about…well, I’m not sure.

    By high school, I dreamed of becoming a HS English teacher (as yet unrealized). In college, I double-majored in English Lit and History…no shortage of reading OR writing assignments!

    Then I go and marry someone who actually believes it’s rude to read in front of company. Go figure.

    I’m reading much more lately in preparation for a role shift. I love it, but still need to work on structuring my time to accommodate it. I’ve use an RSS reader, but blogging machines like you (Amber) ensure that I’m never caught up!

    Current fiction: Eat, Love, Pray
    Current audiobook: 5 Habits of Highly Successful Families (book club read)

  • http://www.potluckmama.wordpress.com Beth Coetzee

    my bad…Eat, Pray, Love.

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  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet Guy Martin

    Amber,

    I totally agree with your post, not only from the perspective of finding good sources that inspire my blog posts, emails, etc., but also to let my mind relax.

    I can always tell if I’ve gotten too much into a ‘tactical mindset’ at work, because my reading of all things, including online (Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds), and offline (magazines, books, etc.) falls off to the point that I want to strangle someone or something. :)

    To me, reading gives your mind the right context shift to kick start the creative juices, and get you out of the ‘to-do list’ mentality (not that being tactical is bad, but, all things in moderation).

  • http://blogs.open.collab.net/oncollabnet Guy Martin

    Amber,

    I totally agree with your post, not only from the perspective of finding good sources that inspire my blog posts, emails, etc., but also to let my mind relax.

    I can always tell if I’ve gotten too much into a ‘tactical mindset’ at work, because my reading of all things, including online (Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds), and offline (magazines, books, etc.) falls off to the point that I want to strangle someone or something. :)

    To me, reading gives your mind the right context shift to kick start the creative juices, and get you out of the ‘to-do list’ mentality (not that being tactical is bad, but, all things in moderation).

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  • http://martinpigg.com Martin Pigg

    Amber,

    Thanks so much for your post. I’m new to blogging, so your thoughts and suggestions are extremely helpful. I’ve discovered that I enjoy writing. Now the challenge is to develop the routine of writing regularly and not just when I’m inspired as I was this morning. Reading is no problem because I’m doing it constantly. But I definitely need to “practice flexing my vocabulary and voice.”

    Best Wishes,
    Martin Pigg
    .-= Martin Pigg´s last blog ..Marxist Sandwich Maker Saves Family of Three =-.

  • http://martinpigg.com Martin Pigg

    Amber,

    Thanks so much for your post. I’m new to blogging, so your thoughts and suggestions are extremely helpful. I’ve discovered that I enjoy writing. Now the challenge is to develop the routine of writing regularly and not just when I’m inspired as I was this morning. Reading is no problem because I’m doing it constantly. But I definitely need to “practice flexing my vocabulary and voice.”

    Best Wishes,
    Martin Pigg
    .-= Martin Pigg´s last blog ..Marxist Sandwich Maker Saves Family of Three =-.

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Amen, it’s all about the words. You need to read, full stop.
    .-= Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..Work is not a dirty word * =-.

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Amen, it’s all about the words. You need to read, full stop.
    .-= Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..Work is not a dirty word * =-.

  • http://www.mindstructures.com Annemieke

    “Reading more helps you identify good writing AND bad writing, and how to tell the difference between the two.”

    Absolutely agreed!

    The first part of my life I did neither, read or write. Then some years ago I did nothing but read. As much as I could.

    But I never wrote.

    Only just recently I started writing (well blogging) and I absolutely love it!

    But I still read a lot. For one because I still like it, but also because it indeed helps to identify the difference between good and bad writing (although I don’t think they are absolutes) to find my own way. Which is still far from how I WANT to write, but I agree that the only way to get there is by writing a LOT.

    What I am reading right now are mainly blogs. Might get back to books sometime, but now I prefere blogs. I just love their variety and interaction.
    .-= Annemieke´s last blog ..Creative Development =-.

  • http://www.mindstructures.com Annemieke

    “Reading more helps you identify good writing AND bad writing, and how to tell the difference between the two.”

    Absolutely agreed!

    The first part of my life I did neither, read or write. Then some years ago I did nothing but read. As much as I could.

    But I never wrote.

    Only just recently I started writing (well blogging) and I absolutely love it!

    But I still read a lot. For one because I still like it, but also because it indeed helps to identify the difference between good and bad writing (although I don’t think they are absolutes) to find my own way. Which is still far from how I WANT to write, but I agree that the only way to get there is by writing a LOT.

    What I am reading right now are mainly blogs. Might get back to books sometime, but now I prefere blogs. I just love their variety and interaction.
    .-= Annemieke´s last blog ..Creative Development =-.

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