Read More to Become a Better Writer

Reading on the beach... Last week I posted Copyblogger’s advice on how to become a better writer. That advice all involved actually writing—no matter what else you do, you will never become a good writer if you don’t write.

There is something else that will improve your writing, and that is reading. Often aspiring writers think that means they should read books and articles about writing. Reading about writing can, indeed, be extremely valuable, but that’s not the only kind of reading I recommend. Read the newspaper and magazines. Read books, both fiction and nonfiction. Read in the genre you write and read in totally unrelated genres.

What keeps you reading after you’ve promised yourself you’ll go to the bed at the end of the chapter? What pulls you out of the story and brings you back to the real world? As you think about what you like and don’t like in what you read, you will start to improve your own writing. You will do more of the things that work and less of the things that don’t.

By reading in your own genre, you’ll stay current on the conventions and expectations. By reading in other genres, you’ll get ideas for adding new twists to your own writing.

I have heard aspiring writers say they don’t have time to read because they’re too busy writing. Of course, you have to maintain a balance, but if you don’t love to read, how can you expect other people to love to read your work.

So far this year, I have read and rated  more than 100 books (including short stories) on Goodreads. If you look at the list, you will see subjects ranging from light romance to Bible study to biography to culture and politics.What do you like to read? Do you post reviews or ratings of what you read? I’d love to see what a variety of reading interests there is among readers.

Creative Commons License photo credit: theurchiness

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