Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. If you don’t read, you can’t be a writer. You have to read just about everything.”
Is reading important for writers? The short obvious answer: YES!
The importance of reading took me several years to understand. There have been countless teachers that have told me to read in order to improve my writing, however, I’m not much of a reader. I have one of the shortest attention spans, thus getting very bored with books quicker than others. Not to mention, that as an English major, I did so much reading that books just became more work and less of an enjoyment. I jumped at the chance not to read. I still had the ability to write, but I wasn’t as good as I thought, which led me to be rejected for publishing.
When I finally started reading more my creative ideas dramatically improved. My vocabulary also improved, as well as my story telling. I only read about one book every two months. This led me to find out how reading improved my writing.
According to WriteToDone.com:
“What we learn as readers, we use as writers. Maybe we don’t always do the best job at putting that knowledge to use, but that just takes practice. Over time, our writing becomes in some ways a compilation of all the things we’ve learned as readers, blended together in our own unique recipe.”
Finally, I understood my teachers’ advice. Reading in a sense is like a daily learning tool that continuously improves my writing skills. There are so many different types of writers, all of which have different styles and my mind picks up styles and ideas that I like. This also allows me to see some styles I don’t like and avoid them in my writing. In a nutshell, my writing improves because I’m consciously changing my habits by adding what I’ve read to my writing style. This is all because I looked at some words on a page.
To help you get the most out of reading, take a look at what I did that helped improved my writing.
- Underlining or highlighting lines in books I liked
- Making notes in the margins about why I like certain lines or the author’s word usage.
- Recreate passages and rearrange wordage on scratch paper just to get the concept down. This is sort of like a writing exercise.
- Read various types of genres. I find that fantasy is amazing for learning descriptions and poetic voice, but business and marketing books are great for understanding how to writing concisely.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any additional ideas.