Does what you read influence how you write?

The Grammarly team is growing quickly, which means that we’re writing a lot of job descriptions to help us recruit top talent. One recent job post stated: “Salary will be commensurate with experience.”

Commensurate . . . commensurate . . . commensurate . . .

Perhaps you know what that word means; you may even understand how to use it in the context of a sentence. However, if you are like me, you have no idea how to actually say it aloud.

(In case you’re interested, here’s how.)

My inability to pronounce the word “commensurate” is a great example of how reading has made me a better writer. By reading others’ written job descriptions, I’ve learned specific text structures and language that I am now able to transfer to my own writing.

Today is National Reading Day, an annual event encouraging children to read. Although Grammarly is focused on improving English writing globally, reading is a topic that is dear to our hearts. After all, reading and writing are inextricably entwined.

Research has found that when children read extensively they become better writers. Additionally, reading provides young people with prior knowledge that they can use in their stories. Even professional writers understand the importance of reading others’ work. Here are the favorite books of some of our favorite writers:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [. . .] the story of Francie Nolan struggling up in a tenement slum through the cracks in the pavement to reach the sun. It may be the best book I’ve ever read about poverty, parenthood, the immigrant experience, and just about everything else. My firstborn daughter is named Francie Nolan.”

—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

The Music Room, by Dennis McFarland

“I love this book because it is a haunting, touching, and beautifully written story about a deeply flawed family. I also love it because it was put into my hands more than 20 years ago by a young woman who said to me: ‘You must read this book.’ Did I ask that young woman to marry me because of McFarland’s book? That might be overstating things. But sometimes when someone changes your life by handing you a great book, she might be there to change your life in other ways as well.”

—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

What do you think? Does what you read influence how you write?

Today, Grammarly is launching our 2nd Annual Scholarship for Exceptional Writing, and we’re interested in your feedback.

For a chance to win a $1,000 scholarship, we’re inviting students to write a short essay responding to one of the questions below, and submit to before February 24, 2014 at noon PT.

  • How are reading and writing interconnected?
  • How has reading improved the way you write?

Please see additional scholarship rules here. We’ll leave you with the thoughts of Robin Kimmerer: “With words at your disposal, you can see more clearly. Finding the words is another step in learning to see.”

Happy National Reading Day, writers.


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