Hi, all. Erin here. As you know, I teach some of the writing courses here at TestMagic. And, along with a couple of key staff members, including Linda, Nelson, and Eva, design and create the curriculum for the writing classes.
There's one thing that I tell people frequently: IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO READ. (Some would say no kidding!) Think of reading as brain exercise--just as you would go to the gym to exercise or run around Lake Merced to stay in shape, you should read (and read a lot) to make your mind sharper.
As some of you know, our writing classes emphasize four key areas: reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Each is important in different ways, and skill in each area progresses differently. Reading is important because it gives you new information of course, but good writing stretches the limits of your thinking a bit; over time, this effect can be quite significant.
Writing, of course, is generally thought of as the most difficult skill to master (of the four mentioned), but it is also extremely important--being able to write well reflects an ability to think well, which of course is vital to any kind of meaningful success (by many measures). Grammar and vocabulary are also very important, but in different ways--grammar reflects how a language is put together and vocabulary represents the myriad Lego-like blocks that we construct our ideas with; with the right vocabulary, we can create almost any thinkable idea. But without the right words, we get lost or left behind.
But one of the important things to remember is that all these skills are interrelated; you cannot truly meaningfully improve all four independently (with the possible exception of some fundamental grammar). So, if you want to be a good writer, you should be a good reader; if you want to improve your vocabulary, you should read; if you want to improve your grammar or become familiar with more advanced grammatical structures, you should read.
And I just want to note that it seems to be a rule that if you write about how important it is not to make grammar mistakes, then you will make one.