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Can we write without reading? This post is a response to questions to understand more about writing and reading:

Madarin Dream Character

Let’s assume you do not understand Mandarin. Try writing the Mandarin character you see in the above picture or write/read this sentence 我是一个人。Without knowing what that sentence means, you can still copy the strokes and form the same characters yourself. Writing is a process that can be done without knowing how to read.

Our muscular movement connects our hands and fingers that are used to write to the brain that sends messages about what to write. We are only able to write what we see in our head, perhaps of something we have read before and in the case of the foreign characters, the pattern and form of the written matter. This movement requires eye-hand co-ordination. So whilst the hand is still told to form the word say ‘letter’, the mind will be prompted to check and read the written ONLY after movement is completed.

Watch a child when he tries to learn how to write. His mind focuses on getting the strokes done right first; he writes on the line with each shape of his letters properly shaped and spaced. When he is done, he paused to read the entire word AFTER he is finished. There is a time lapse between writing and reading. This lapse in time becomes shorter and shorter as we teach ourselves to read and write quicker and faster. So we can speed read while writing a sentence, correcting mistakes faster then the child could.

Often we hear the term “he is an early reader”. The same cannot be said of a child who learns how to write properly. When he has learned how to write a few words, we look for neatness, spacing and understanding of his knowledge of the written form in his writing. We don’t say he is an ‘early writer’. We comment on his writing not how he reads his own handwriting.

Writing is not just about working with number and letters. Writing is about presenting an image of the impression in your mind that you ALREADY know. Drawing is also a form of writing. If you draw a chimney, you will know in your mind you’ve seen it somewhere on a book or during your travels how a chimney would look like.

Read more “How to start thinking writing.”

A child who does not how to write a letter of the alphabet finds himself drawing a picture of a plane; to him that is writing.

In order to read, we must already have a printed matter, concrete written texts for us to decode, decipher meaning and context. The more things we want to write about, the faster our hands move. We are also able to hold on the knowledge of what we want to write next, while we read, checking for spelling mistakes. We learn to respond to writing mistakes intuitively, reading the whole word and cognitively feel for the correctness of the spelling, grammar and syntax in our sentence. This process then becomes intuitive.

Why Do We Read When We Write?

The only reason is that we already know how to read.

What If You Do Not Know How To Read?

You can still be able to write as long as you have good eye hand co-ordination when holding a writing instrument. When I learn to write Mandarin or Arabic, all I need to know is how to present the image or impression. If I need to know how to say what I have written, then we enter the process of reading.