Like playing violin or clarinet, writing is a skill. Talent alone—or even talent coupled with motivation, good teaching, and family support—doesn’t produce musical prodigies.
A study by a researcher at the University of Arkansas found that world-class musicians became proficient by practicing music. Of course, not everyone becomes a world class musician no matter how hard she or he practices. Talent does come into the picture. But those folks who don’t achieve star billing are a vital part of the arts scene. They become the orchestra and the audience for the top performers.
Similarly, those who don’t become great writers become a huge audience of amateurs who write competently, if not brilliantly, themselves. They know from experience how difficult writing is, how hard one must work to become really good at it.
So if you want your students to appreciate literature, require them to write regularly until they become competent amateur writers. They’ll become the book buyers, the book club members, the parents who read to their children.
[2016-02-03 updated link]