Why Reading Makes Us better Writers

By on June 25, 2016
Why Reading Makes Us better Writers - Writer's Life.org

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo

Reading is a hugely important part of any writers life. It makes you a better writer.

Reading is a writers research, their inspiration, what fuels their ideas, what excites them, what helps them learn how to improve, try new techniques and be more creative. In short, if you want to write, you have to read.

But just what is it about reading that makes you a better writer?

Reading is training. Ever since you first picked up a book, you began practicing for your future career. Think of a child that starts to play an instrument from a young age and ends up with a job in a famous orchestra. This is what reading does for children who wish to be writers (though it is never too late to start!).

Reading brings us great joy. Any book that we’ve enjoyed will have evoked an emotional response form us, will have completely captivated us and immersed us in the tale. Anything that captures your imagination, that takes you into another world, is wonderful, and therapeutic too. It compels you to keep on reading, to find new stories to enjoy, new fictional worlds to explore.

The more you read the more you are exposed to these wonderful characters, their journeys, their worlds. You absorb the language, the descriptions, the imagery, the plots, and the more you do this, the more knowledge and expertise you will have when it comes to writing your own stories.

Reading for pleasure is one thing, but reading as research for your own work is quite another. To get all you can from reading other authors work, you need to be alert, vigilant, keep your eye out for details, language, plot points. You need to have an eye for writing. This doesn’t mean you have to labour over every sentence, every word, but in doing so you can discover what inspires you, what you can use in your own work.

Reading is also useful to help understand your genre. If you are writing a particular kind of book, a romance, horror, or thriller, reading lots of books in  your chosen genre will help you to understand the ‘rules’, what’s been done before, and how you can make yours more original, exciting, and engaging.

Getting into the habit of reading is hugely important for writers. Sometimes, if you haven’t picked up a book for a long time, it can be difficult to get back into the swing of things. However, once you start reading regularly, the joy of reading will come flooding back to you, and you’ll soon find yourself flooded with ideas and inspiration for your own writing too.

If you don’t know where to start then begin with some of the classic books, the worlds most celebrated authors such as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and so on. Read them once, and then read again, this time taking notes and analysing how they developed their characters, how they moved their story along, what kind of language they used.

Reading, of course, is about enjoyment, and reading for pleasure is so important. However, as a writer, it is hugely important that you read. Devour books, as many of them as you can. You’ll see your technique and style improve and you'll feel more inspired to write -all that without even really trying!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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