Reading to Write, or Writing to Read?

In Deborah Brandt’s “The Status of Writing” and “How Writing is Remaking Reading,” she argues that in an ever-increasing commercial world, people are now reading in order to write, rather than reading for the sake of literacy, moral or culture. Brandt seems to have done exhaustive research on how the individual disciplines of reading and writing have developed and eventually intersected. She seemingly bemoans the fact that because of writing’s commercial value, reading has merely become a steppingstone for its more commercial complement and is no longer regarded as its own discipline.
To me, the convergence of reading and writing is nothing new and not something to look unfavorably upon. Granted, Brandt might have better perspective on this and has done more research, but I would think that reading and writing have always had this relationship; at least that’s been the case in my experience. Writers have always read to improve their craft. How else can you improve yourself besides reading other work? You learn new ideas and information and are introduced to different mechanisms and style choices. No idea or thought is wholly original; it has some basis or root in something else. Our writing is a response to something we’ve read, an expansion of the information that was presented to us. I cannot argue against Brandt that reading has lost its moral standing; I do not have enough information either way to make a statement. But I can say that reading and writing have always had this complementary relationship. Commercialism didn’t really change that, but it may have made it more apparent.

2 thoughts to “Reading to Write, or Writing to Read?”

  1. While reading the two pieces for class I was confused on some of the points that the author’s were making. However, your blog post does a great job of presenting the main points in a concise and insightful way! I also agree that the interaction between reading and writing shouldn’t necessarily be viewed in a negative way but in a mutually beneficial manner. I find it interesting when you make the claim that “no idea or thought is wholly original: it has some basis or root in something else.” There is so much information presented to us each day that I can definitely see what you believe this.

  2. Ben,

    I too agree that the convergence of reading and writing is nothing new. Your blog post does a great job at explaining why Brandt says people are no longer reading for the sake of literacy. However, one thing I don’t fully agree with is the point you make about writing being a response to what we’ve read: “Our writing is a response to something we’ve read…” I do believe you can write without necessarily having based it off of something you’ve read… just something to keep in mind! Otherwise, you’re reflection and analysis was incredibly insightful. Nice job!

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