Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reading to Absorb the Language of Writing

For writers, reading extensively provides more than just knowledge and perspective - it's part of mastering the language of the written word.

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Bradbury's Important Habits: Writing and Reading

Reading Is Part of the Language Process
Learning it is little different from the process of picking up speech.

Writers and Reading
As Hopkins students, you have access to the kind of education that Bradbury himself couldn't afford.  As you'll see in this video, his lack of tuition money wasn't a barrier to his education.  Instead, he spent time at the library, reading about the topics that interested him.

This kind of extensive reading provides two things that every writer needs: a wealth of background material and a familiarity with the written word.

Never underestimate the potential of knowledge gained through reading.  If you've seen the movie Good Will Hunting, then you may well remember the scene where Matt Damon whips out the wealth of knowledge "you coulda got for a dollar-fifty in late charges at the public library."

Naturally, we don't all possess the photographic instant recall portrayed in the character of Will Hunting.  And in a way that's a good thing.  As creative writers, our goal isn't to regurgitate the past - we're trying to write new stories.  And to do this, we depend less upon specific recall and more upon contextual analysis.  

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