Many writers are familiar with the practice of “reading like a writer”—paying close attention to an author’s choices while reading to better hone our own writing skills. We observe what other writers are doing to refine our craft. It might be equally as important to write with a reader’s mind—to think about our readers as we write.
As an elementary school teacher, I model thinking strategies to help my students with reading comprehension. Visualizing, asking questions, and making connections are reading skills I teach to help my students understand a text. When students can picture what they are reading or ask questions about a text, I know it has meaning. When they can make connections between stories and their own lives, they become more invested and interested.
As a writer, I turn to reading skills to improve my own writing. I ask: What will help my reader visualize this scene? This prompts me to incorporate vivid language or sensory details into my work. To encourage my readers to ask questions while they read, I might deliberately withhold information from them. To get my reader to make connections with my writing, I’ll think: What universal themes or messages can I weave into the fabric of my story?
Using what I know about cultivating strong readers can go a long way on the writing front. Thinking about reading and my own reading thought processes while I write has made a big impact in my work.