There is a very common misconception that students who read a lot will automatically become good writers. On the surface level, it makes sense. After all, reading extensively allows students to develop a large vocabulary, appreciate different perspectives and gain an understanding of how different texts are structured. As with any skill, the first step towards becoming proficient is to watch a professional at work.
On the other hand, nobody learns to drive a car by watching their mum drive; nobody learns how to shoot baskets by watching basketball on television; and nobody learns how to bake a perfect souffle by just reading recipe books. In all these situations, practise is the key. While this all seems obvious, to be a strong English student, people often forget the importance of practising writing. Like any skill, writing requires constant practise. Here are some skills that you can only get from practising writing…
1. Practising writing builds muscle memory
Students often forget that writing is not just a mental task; it is a physical one as well. When students sit their VCE exams, or if they sit a Selective Schools or Scholarship test, they are required to write long, well thought out essays or creative narratives under a strict time limit. Quite often, under these situations, students’ hands get tired before their brains do. Students who haven’t practised writing essays or narratives on a regular basis will find it hard to write quickly enough, or for long enough, to get all of their great ideas on the page. On the other hand, students who recognise that writing (like all tasks) needs practise, are much more likely to have the physical and mental skills they need to succeed.
2. Learning to read and learning to write are two completely different skills
Reading is obviously a wonderful skill for building imagination in students; but it is, in the end, largely a passive activity. When you are learning to read for the first time, you need to recognise the shapes of letters and words and decode them using your knowledge of sounds and phonics. Then when you have built up the required skills to read a story, you get to sit back and let the author take you on a journey.
When it’s your turn to do the writing, suddenly your job becomes a lot more difficult. How do you even start? What is the right word to use to communicate the right message? How can you grab and maintain your reader’s attention? How do you conclude in a satisfactory way? What about grammar/ spelling/ punctuation? You’re given an empty page that you’re supposed to fill with ideas. This can be incredibly stressful, and many students face writer’s block as a result. Learning specific writing skills and practising writing is a good way to get better at generating your own ideas, so you can succeed every time. The more you practise, the less intimidating the empty page will look, and the more techniques you will learn for generating ideas in order to become a successful writer.
3. Practising writing demystifies the art of writing
Have you ever read a great essay or a great story and thought, “How on Earth did they do that?” It’s a common experience, and it’s part of the fun of reading. When we read good writing, we’re not necessarily trying to figure out how the author is doing what they’re doing, we’re just enjoying their work. This is one of the reasons why it’s not enough to just read extensively if you want to learn to write well. Put simply: reading good writing doesn’t teach you how to be a good writer yourself. On the other hand, when you practise writing regularly, you start to notice the patterns, the little tricks that you can use again and again to make your writing successful. Practising writing allows you to look behind the curtain and seeing the mechanisms that make up a successful piece of writing.
Of course, practising is hard. And it’s not the kind of thing you can just do without guidance. That’s where we come in. If you or your child wants more guidance on how to practise their writing, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 1800 668 177 to book a free assessment. Alternatively, you can book online by clicking here.
If your child is preparing for a Scholarship or Selective Schools Exam, you might also want to check out our custom Writing Bundle. This bundle contains our best selling persuasive essay book and narrative book. After reading these books your child will have the skills required to write a compelling and well structured narrative and persuasive essay!