Guest post by @ailindigo: You don't know how to think if you don't know how to write, and if you don't know how to write it's because you don't read (not enough)

On my first post I mentioned something very important which I had to refrain myself from talking about because if I extended on the topic the post I would stop being an "introduceyourself". What I put was "one must learn to think in order to learn to write". In this post I will talk about that: You do not know how to think if you do not know how to write, and if you do not know how to write it is because you do not read (not enough).

In other words, in a quote (more forceful, accurate and easy to understand) from Juan José Arreola: "If you do not read, you do not know how to write; If you do not know how to write, you do not know how to think."

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"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
Ludwig Wittgenstein


We currently live in a world in which everyone wants to express their opinions and/or feelings, but not everyone reads and the only way we can write is with the lexicon we have obtained by reading. We have a rough thought if we do not have in our mind readings that enrich our lexicon, that is, if we do not have vocabulary. It is impossible to write if we do not have words, that is why it is necessary to understand the activity of reading as a pillar tool of intellectual development.

In a certain way, reading is an activity superior to writing, it is the capital for writing! Without it, there is no possibility of creating something clear, with beauty or even depth. Writing is based on all the readings we have done and what we have learned from all those authors that we have read, this way our thinking and discernment of things is formed, those words and ideas from those authors are mixed not only with ours but also with our experiences. Writing is refined from thought, it is a distillation of it.

Language shapes our world, each language is a way of seeing the world; an example of this is how certain languages have words that others do not have, to express certain ideas or concepts and even emotions: in German the word "Torschlusspanik" which literally means "panic due to the closing door" refers to the sense of fear or anxiety caused by the feeling that life's opportunities are passing by, are not being taken advantage of and diminish with the passage of time; English has eleven basic terms for color and Greek has twelve because they differentiate between two types of blue -in Greek we have ghalazio and never ble for sky blue and dark blue- will this mean that Greeks notice and differentiate the blue colors faster than the English speakers?; or the Portuguese word "cafuné" which is a verb whose meaning is "running your fingers affectionately through the hair of your beloved one"; this is: learning a new language is also learning a new way of thinking. We could say then that thought is created in language, the word creates the world and we can appreciate that in our daily life.

So, it is clear that reading is the activity that supplies the words that stimulate our mind and that is an important aspect of the human being as a thinking entity of the world. The best place to develop ourselves in this tool is not the articles (like this one) that predominate on the web, but in the real reading, in the books, that perfect place where the truly deep encounter with the mind of an author takes place, in the text that moves to our mind.

So let's learn to think through reading! Let's learn to write truly! As I said before: Borges said that "Writing is a consequence of reading." So if you really want to express yourself correctly, beautifully or deeply: close this tab right now, grab a book and read!


This content is a manual translation of an article of mine that was originally in spanish and posted 6 months ago on my blog. I wanted to share it with the english-speaking community through this opportunity. This translation was made by myself @ailindigo, the original author, and you can read the post in spanish here.

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