The relationship between reading and writing seems clear – reading makes you a better writer. You must observe in order to create. Yet, if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that the opposite is also true: writing makes you a better reader. Trying to write makes you more aware about how and why authors do what they do, and a little awareness and mindfulness go a long way. So, this year I’m going to recommend that you improve your reading life by writing. Start with writing book reviews. Write incomplete sentences on Goodreads, write ungrammatical ones on Amazon, write full ones in a blog, or write whichever way you want in password-protected word documents on your home computer. However you choose to do it – write.
Then, write more. Get yourself into all of the problems writers get themselves into, and write your way out of them. Try writing a well-rounded secondary character. Attempt a perfect first sentence. Write a page of dialog without overusing the word ‘said’. Rewrite every paragraph so that you don’t use the same word twice. Reference literature without sounding arrogant. Remember where commas actually go. Observe how people talk, interrupt themselves, misuse words, and repeat themselves, and then try to write something real.
Not only will failing at all of this (for your will fail, at least at first) deepen your appreciation for great writers, but you’ll also be able to see how each author solves the problems of writing, and how that makes their books good/bad/great/inconsistent/ unrealistic/profound, etc. All the thought you put into solving these problems will then be with you when you read. Instead of merely accepting what is on the page, you’ll be able to analyze the page – thinking about why and how each word or character came to be.
So, without further ado, here are the mostly meaningless, yet still fun, year 5 Book Lion awards: