Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Read and The Write Of It

Sometimes as writers we forget and take for granted the marvel of reading.

And it is pretty much a marvel you know.

We all read, well most of us read, well, a large number of us read and it's kind of funny how we don't think about it, but just do it. A part of every day. and thank heavens writers aren't the only ones who read!

Here's a definition of what reading really is:
..."a complex cognitive process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning...a means of language acquisition of communication and of sharing information and ideas. Reading boils down to a complex interaction between the text and the reader, said text shaped by the reader's prior experience, knowledge, attitude and community.  The reading process requires continuous practice, development and refinement."
photo by Chance Agrella
 Or the more dry dictionary definition:
"the act or practice of one who reads...the study of books; academic material."

The second doesn't tell you nearly what the first does, but you get it. The first definition makes it much more clear just how complicated and fascinating the act of reading is.

There are types of reading other than the written word such as symbols, pictograms and music, but let’s stick with what we scribblers know best - reading a book.

Plainly the first requirement of reading is that there's sharp contrast between the letters and the background they're printed on (don't you just love red on black?) and aside from that, readers, don’t you just love it when the text doesn’t fit your computer screen and you’re forced to scroll from side to side, back and for, repeatedly? (er, I think I can see that you don’t). So fiction writers, copy writers, all writers keep in mind the readability factor in the visual.

The other thing about reading is it is usually an individual activity. One person; book or magazine or whatever in hand, reading. Oh, occasionally someone will do a ‘reading’ and read aloud to a group. And, readers, did you know many writers use reading out loud as a tool when crafting what they write? Reading out loud fosters better comprehension, meaning it allows the writer to catch many of his or her errors and to correct them. Handy, huh?

Did you know also that reading really is a pretty intensive process because the eye moves back and forth assimilating text? Very little of a sentence is actually ‘seen’ accurately, thus the puzzles where you can figure out a whole sentence with lots of words or letters missing. That involves eye movement and visual perception which you can Google if you lile, but it’s a whole ‘nother subject.

So, back to reading. Yep, it’s a very active exercise for your mind as pooped to say watching TV or just listening to music. When you read your brain cells engage in activity as the words you read are automatically translated into vivid images painted on your consciousness from the story the reader is absorbing. Fascinating, don’t you think? But there’s more. Your brain is actually a muscle which really does need to be exercised regularly like any other muscle in your body. If you don’t, you risk dulling yourself down. You must keep your mental faculties constantly engaged to keep your brain from getting bored and that will keep you smarter. Yes, smarter I say. But don’t believe me, research that yourself.

Those of you who are regular readers, think about it. When you read you’re bound to explore the works of a variety of authors and thereby be exposed to different literary styles, learn new words, phrases, idioms, and because of that learn to use those things in new ways yourself.

So, be of good cheer, readers and obsessive readers because readers are generally more knowledgeable folks and more knowledgeable are generally more creative and more creativity leads to innovation and the ability to think more ‘out of the box. So keep reading and you’ll find you’re definitely more creative in whatever are of life you aim to excel.

Want to read a bit more and give me your thoughts? Hop over to The Importance Of Reading For All Of Us. Good article for more info.

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