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Is reading important to become a good writer?



Some have asked, do you have to be an avid reader to become a good writer? In short, I would say yes--sort of.


When I was 18 years old, I knew I wanted to become an author. The realization was a sudden epiphany, but it didn't come out of nowhere. All my life, I grew up creating stories. I would often go to the backyard and do something repetitious for hours (shoot basketball hoops, throw a baseball at a rebound pitchback net, skateboard in circles, walk along a fallen tree in my backyard) in order to tap into my imagination.


In my imagination, I created hundreds of stories full of fantastical worlds. I was the protagonist, the hero, creator, and some of my best childhood memories were in these incredible lands. Now, I did have a pretty normal childhood. I did experience most ordinary things that kids participate in, but escaping into the fantasies of my mind was what truly brought me happiness.


Growing up lost in daydreams, I realized that I wanted to pursue it professionally. But how? Writing and story-telling seemed to be the answer, but I wasn't particularly good at writing. It was easy for me to map out and envision amazing plots but expressing it on paper was a bit of a challenge.


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Determined to transport my ideas into documented thoughts, I began writing. At first, it was a bit difficult. I could easily create dialogue, paint scenes, and emotions, but making it sound eloquent or on par with most literary standards was not a strength. I had to increase my vocabulary learn more about grammar, sentence structure, flow, technical writing elements. Eventually, I had to turn to reading.


Reading was something I did on occasion, primarily for school. If it was for leisure, it was only if the book was really popular. The more I read, though, the more I was exposed to clever ways to express gestures, actions, and descriptions.


I wouldn't say reading has taught me everything about writing, but it definitely significantly improved it--especially grammar. A writer never reaches its apex, though. Just when you get up the mountain, you realize there are higher mountains, always room for improvement. I am still on that writing journey. While it is easier for me to write more quickly, I am still learning and growing, and reading has helped me climb higher.

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