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Writing is a unique craft riddled with emotion, creative expression, and purpose. For many writers, the act of jotting down thoughts, ideas, and stories is a cathartic way to purge feelings, cleanse their minds, and share their work across audiences.
But what makes a person’s writing successful and highly regarded? Is practice enough to perfect the craft? For some, maybe. Yet, most writers pride themselves on being readers first and foremost. Generally speaking, to be a talented writer, you have to be an avid reader. Why? Well, luckily we have a plethora of reasons why every writer needs to be a reader.
- Reading expands your knowledge. The world is a vast place, filled with centuries upon centuries of history, cultures, languages, milestones, discoveries, and the like. Writers can’t possibly learn all there is to know in this world without reading across all genres, time periods, and more. Reading a variety of topics from diverse authors will help novice and experienced writers expand their knowledge, which will show in their own writing.
- Reading teaches you what not to do. When you read books, you become more aware of mistakes. The more you read, the more you will notice misspellings, grammatical errors, plot-holes, and the like. Reading avidly will make writers of all stages more and more polished in the craft of writing, which will naturally show in your writing projects.
- Reading improves your imagination. If you’re a fan of reading fiction, think about all of the mystical stories out there. From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, to Twilight and The Hunger Games, there are hundreds of thousands of ways to add imagination into your life. Reading fiction breeds writing fiction for many authors. Taking the time to read fresh content and be open to creativity will only expand your imagination too!
- Reading reminds you to keep your readers in mind. Ever read a book that completely lost your interest? Have you noticed plot-holes or missing information in stories you’ve read? These are valid concerns readers have at times. Reading regularly will remind you to keep your readers in mind when you’re writing stories. You’ll be more aware of answering all of the big questions in your story, making sure every piece of the book has a purpose, and ultimately why the story should matter to readers at all.
- Reading introduces you to overused cliches. If you write, you probably have a handful of cliches in mind that you want to implement into your own writing. Phrases like “it is what it is” or “I didn’t choose them, they chose me” are generic cliches found in far too many texts. The list goes on! Reading regularly will make you more aware of overused cliches and should serve as a reminder to avoid using them. If you’re a writer, take notice!
- Reading inspires good writing. When you read often, you become more and more exposed to raw talent in other authors’ writing. This is valuable experience to improve your own writing and grow your craft. Think about the books you’ve read that left you in absolute awe. How about the stories that made you experience a spectrum of emotions? Or, the one liners that gave you pause. All of this stems from good writing and reading is a valuable tool in mimicking this in your own work.
- Reading makes your writing flow. Oftentimes, reading books will wash over you with an overpowering surge of inspiration. Reading stories, poetry, memoirs, and the like has this inspirational effect that often leaves readers penning their own projects. Take advantage of the inspiration reading can offer. If you’ve considered writing or do write, remember to balance reading when inspiration falters.
- Reading serves as a reminder that writing is hard work. Ever read a book and just know that the author spent years and years polishing their manuscript? It’s hard to not notice how much effort goes into some of the best books out in today’s market. Many authors are starving artists devoting hours of their day for months or years on end to making their best book yet. Reading these literary successes reminds experienced and novice writers just how much work it takes to produce a bestselling book.
- Reading improves your vocabulary. How many people own e-readers with the dictionary function on their reading app? Yep, it’s common. Ever find yourself reading a new book with words you’ve never even heard of? That dictionary tool can define the new word for you right on the screen. It’s amazing! Technology aside, this resource is amazing because it also expands readers’ vocabularies. Every new word you stumble upon is an opportunity to add a new word to your own repertoire. This is a great way for writers to expand their work.
- Reading breeds writing. More than anything else, avid readers often have a knack for writing themselves. It’s almost comical how many readers out in the world end up writing their own books after a time. All of the stories, nonfiction words, poetry, and essays come together to breed a gift of writing in many readers. If you love to read and have an interest in writing, see where that inspiration takes you! You may very well discover your new hobby.
Writing is a special craft that not every person is endowed with. However, creative expression and storytelling is more common than you may think. Whether it’s writing music, poetry, books, blogs, or essays for school, writing comes in many forms. The best way to polish your writing is to read.
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How can you become an avid reader?
Read new genres, time periods, cultures, and more. Create a Goodreads account and make a “to read” list to capture all of the books you want to tackle someday. Sign up for a library card or join a reader’s group. Do something, anything, even if it’s only committing to reading fifteen minutes before bed.
Reading is such an integral part of life and we all need to be good about making time for it somewhere in our day. Every writer you meet will encourage you to read. Make sure you’re making the effort!
What reasons do YOU believe every writer should be a reader? Share your thoughts in the comments below!