We are getting into the final stage of the How To Become A Better Writer series, and it’s time to look at the finer, more long-term points of what makes a great writer. Part 8 has to do with reading – a choice that is likely on every writer’s list of favorite pastimes! 🙂
Reading is certainly an activity engaged in for fun. But what few writers pay attention to is how effective a tool it can be. Reading specific types of writing, and from certain genres and eras, can light up your writing abilities and general intelligence like nothing else. Plus, it’s no mistake many of the wealthiest folks across history have hailed reading as their number one activity.
Let’s jump into 10 ways reading can make you a better writer!
1. Reading Makes You A Better Writer
“Well, duh!” you might be saying in response. And you are correct! Reading does make you a better writer. But we often leave such a statement at the surface level sentimentality of itself. We rarely plunge deeper to examine the mechanics of how reading actually enhances your ability to write, once you pick up the pen (or keyboard):
- Reading helps you collect facts
- Reading illustrates another person’s world for you
- Reading shows you what has worked for other writers and authors
- Reading helps you combine information
- Reading allows you to stay appropriately current
- Reading often reveals long-lost (literary) relics
2. Reading Is So Much Fun
Life is too short not to have fun. As a writer, fun should certainly include reading! Reading is so much fun for the typical writer, and this reason alone should be more than enough to make regular time for it.
As an aspiring writer, you can get incredibly wrapped up in the idea of doing more and constantly writing. While pumping out work is a necessity for a successful writing career, make sure you take a break every now and then. You won’t have the motivation or the energy to go on if you’re constantly just hitting the grind!
Beyond simply enjoying a break from the action, reading for pleasure reminds you how to be audience-oriented.Reading for pleasure reminds you how to be audience-oriented. Click To Tweet
This is helpful because the best writers always balance their work between applying integrity and serving their audience.The best writers balance between applying integrity and serving their audience. Click To Tweet
3. Reading Brings You To New Worlds
Reading, especially fiction, helps you expand what is already possible. A massive piece of what makes writing (and any creative task) so fulfilling is that there’s really no limit to what’s conceivable. If you can dream it up, it can be brought to life.
Reading also breaks down falsely pre-conceived notions. I still remember working on my first book and seeing the initial editorial review my team sent back. The editor (gracefully) pointed out that I had made some erroneous assumptions.
He then provided a few options for whichever path I wanted to take for the book. It was a slightly embarrassing moment, but it taught me to be more observant of the world around me.
Reading introduces you to new interests and passions. You never really know what you’re going to come across next when you dive into a new book. Reading also clarifies what was murky before, giving you a stronger understanding of a previously less familiar topic. Speaking of topics…
4. Reading Can Refresh You On Old Topics
Reading helps you strengthen topical knowledge you’re already an expert in. There’s no hurt in leveling up the knowledge you already have in a field, because this helps you serve clients within a field better.
People are always looking for the freshest, latest information on their favorite topics, and reading helps keep you interested in such matters. Reading also bolsters the basics, reminding you of the most important elements of your topic.
5. Reading Can Introduce You To New Topics
Reading allows you to see how disparate topics are actually connected. Books are the world’s storehouses of ideas, and so often you’ll read a book that contains incredibly insightful overlap with another beloved topic. There is limitless fun and value to be had in making new connections via reading.
6. Reading Introduces Ideas Subconsciously
Chunks of what you read will sit in your subconscious for a while and grow into more powerful thoughts. There are few other activities in life that can boast the same caliber of increasing intelligence.
This is precisely why it’s important to read high quality material. Select some highly recommended books from trusted professionals and friends, pick a few top-shelf reads that appeal to you, then get reading!
7. Reading Helps You See What Readers Connect With
I had always heard about James Patterson, but for the longest time I never read any of his material. When I purchased my own copy of Along Came A Spider, I nearly instantaneously saw how and why he has become such a popular and successful writer. It’s beyond the scope of this post to go into his techniques, but suffice it to say it’s always worth studying other successful writers.
Studying the greats allows you to see what has been successful over time. You’ll pick up patterns within characters, sentences, word choice, overall tone, story arc and much more. Perhaps most of all, you’ll find writers that inspire you to no end and help you create the best work you’re capable of.
Reading various genres of writing builds your own hybrid approach to a finished piece. There are few writers who have the courage to read tons of different kinds of writing, but those who do and apply what they’ve absorbed end up having the most fulfilling work lives.
8. Reading Allows You To Understand The Mind Of Another Writer
Diving into another writer’s mind can reveal so much. You’ll feel genuinely inspired and motivated as you find similarities with other writers. Seeing and knowing that you “aren’t the only one” can remind you that the battle towards your dream life is more than worth it.
You will discover, piece by piece, how they built their habits and made them last. This can be one of the most empowering experiences to undergo as a writer. My writing habits and styles have changed forever after discovering that a favorite writer used a certain technique. Now that I’ve incorporated some of their habits into my processes, it motivates me to remain productive and keep working towards greater success.
9. Reading Makes You Smarter
Reading really does make you smarter. If you don’t believe me, here’s one article about the topic, and here’s another. What’s more, reading is one of the only habits dozens of billionaires have in common. Reading can and does improve your likelihood of success.
Reading forces you to take in new information and decide what’s worthwhile. If you read something and you didn’t get what you thought you’d get out of it, your brain will be constantly looking for a way to make sense of this. This is not to say you should only read materials that will have practical value. It means your mind will work in response to whatever you’ve read, creating stronger neural pathways and greater brain activity.
10. Reading Gives You The Freedom To Mess Up And Do Well
Reading about what others have done before you is an ideal way to introduce beneficial habits early on. There is hardly a writer on Earth who did not at one point struggle with their craft. In fact, if you are struggling – or even feeling like you are – this is proof you’re doing something right. You’re focused on figuring out how to get better results from your work and make a more meaningful impact.
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The How To Become A Better Writer Series: