RAISE your hand if you hate reading a book that frustrates more than entertains you.
Well, I’m no exception.
I’ve recently started reading Yuval Noah Hariri’s “Homo Deus”. And in spite of the buzz that this book is extremely cool (and thus reading this in public makes you look intelligent, critical and impressively updated), I still have to struggle to find enjoyment in reading it.
But then I realize that a book is supposed to be a main food for thought. And reading a good book is like feeding yourself a nutritious super food. It definitely makes you healthier and more alive than ever before.
So I came to the conclusion that a good book is also like a healthy food: it’s not as delicious as junk food but it offers numerous benefits in the ways we’ve never imagined.
The fact that I write for a living also pushes me to read not only good but great books. It’s more about enriching my vocabulary, strengthen my linguistic ‘muscles’ than keeping up with all the trends.
Yet, what happens now is that I – and a lot of us – am reading more online materials than great quality books. We read more trashy, clickbait articles that are produced or reproduced within minutes and fewer book that are very well thought and heavily edited and revised by experienced editors of major publishers.
And it’s no wonder that our linguistic skills including our writing skills just suck, getting rotten and rusty from day to day underuse.
If you’re a writer or copywriter or anyone working in the domain of language and creativity like me, chances are you’ll find your work or your sentences monotonous, boring and less enticing the more you consume ‘junk’ content every day.
It totally MAKES sense! If you read trash, you write trash as well!
Simply put, to write better, watch your reading materials. Make sure you consume good quality materials.
And science even justifies this!
A study by the University of Florida and published in International Journal of Business Administration revealed that people who read only online content (social media content and popular online news outlets with less quality) have the lowest score in their writing complexity than people who read journal articles or great quality fictional works such as novels written by critically acclaimed authors.
What is ‘writing complexity’ we are discussing here? There’re many factors that show someone’s ability to produce advanced and complex structures in writing. This complexity may encompasses lengths of sentences that one produces, how sophisticated someone’s choice of word (diction) is, and so forth.
Complexity of writing sometimes does NOT necessarily mean you have to write lengthy sentences that confuse readers. Making complex yet efficient sentences means we are able to tactfully organize more than one ideas in a sentence without being lengthy. We just have to make sure that every word is impactful enough to be there. Each word has its own reason to be in a sentence.
What is interesting to note is that this is irrespective of duration. That means it’s not about how many hours you spend, but more about the quality of reading materials you consume on daily basis. Those who have better writing skills admitted they only spent several hours a week reading quality materials instead of online stuff that is packed with listicles, clickbaits, or hoaxy and sensational news items.
And because writing is a type of communication, this rule also applies in speaking skills learning. Someone who wants to master better speaking skills must also try to listen to great quality oral materials.
I know that not all online content available is bad for our writing skills development. But if you’re a writer or someone who earns a living by writing, please take this piece of advice: “Read well-written things”. A co-author of the study mentioned some of the best online news outlets such as “The Economist” or “Wall Street Journal” or “New Yorker” magazine but in my opinion well-written and well-edited books, be it non-fiction or fiction, are still the best option.
And because I’m Indonesian, I can translate the advice to this: Read more “Majas Kreatif” or “Tempo” magazine and less Detik.com, IDNTimes.com, Brilio.co, Tempo.co (yes, the online channel of Tempo just displays cheesy and racy clickbaits), Viva.co.id, Merdeka.com, TribunNews.com, Suara.com, OkeZone.com, etc. (*/)