By Jay Busse, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor
Reading to improve your writing is like brushing your teeth. It is far better to do a little daily than to wait and do a lot on the weekends. Reading frequently exposes you to new vocabulary, grammatical structures, and writing styles. What can be difficult for student writers is finding the time to read during a busy day.
First of all, don’t limit yourself to paper books. eBooks (Nooks and Kindles) and free book apps for your hand-held devices and even audio books in the car will contribute to the improvement of your writing. These alternatives can provide you with that extra flexibility that you need to make you a constant reader.
Keep a book with you at all times. At home have it with you on your bedside table, so you can reel off a few paragraphs when you wake up as well as before bed. In the kitchen, you can take a few moments to read while the pasta is boiling, the popcorn is popping, or the oven is preheating.
Focus on filling those down times during the day. If you have children, it is part of the job description that you will be waiting for them. Whether it is staying after school waiting for sport or band practice to end, the time you wait is prime time to read. Settle in and make some progress on that literature.
When you are out running errands, the inevitable line that you must wait in provides an opportunity to burn through a few paragraphs, if not pages. Speaking of running, most pieces of gym equipment are equipped with a bookrack. Take the hint, and kill two birds with one stone.
Always make sure you have a bookmark with you as well. You’ll be stopping and starting frequently, so you’ll need to be able to resume without delay. Additionally, for many readers, it feels so satisfying to see that bookmark progress from the beginning of the book, all the way through to the end.
You can even find a few spare moments when you are with family and friends. In any relationship, there are those inevitable down times where the people you are with want or need to check their email, Twitter, or Facebook accounts. At other times, a little channel or web surfing might be favored. When you reach for the book or ereader instead of the remote, know that you’ll be improving your writing as well as turning pages.
It is so important to remember that some is always better than none. Once you get going, you will gain momentum, and it will become a habit. Become a constant reader, and you will see a real development your writing skills.