The Need to Read

The Need to Read

A few days ago I was sitting in a waiting room, and I started reading a blog from a magazine.  The title caught my eye, but as I read through the blog I found myself disappointed, and frankly, embarrassed for the writer.   The writing was boring and mediocre, and the sad part was it didn’t have to be.  It could have been an excellent blog, but the writer was sloppy.   Not only was there typos and bad vocabulary, but it was full of bad grammar.   The worst part was that the article was forgetful.  This writer could have done so much better if only she had done her
homework… she needed to read more.

paperDo I have to read?

It is very important that writers read… a lot!  You need to grow as a writer, and when you read the works of other writers, you grow in experience and in intellect.  I recommend that you read several different kinds of books so you get a variety of writer experience.  When you finish reading “Moby Dick”, pick upa copy of “Little Women.” One last thing on this topic… don’t write fluff.  Your readers aren’t stupid, and they will know the difference.  If you have nothing to write, then don’t write.  Give it a bit more inspiration and you will get an idea.  It will be worth the wait.

What should I read?

Writers need to read everything.  Magazines. Books. Periodicals. Everything they can put their hands on.  Writers need to understand the
language, and they need to be experts in communication.  A good writer is a champion of words, and can make their readers see the writing in their minds.

readingWhen a writer reads, they should write down ideas and capture thoughts as they read.  There is nothing that will inspire a writer like reading someone else’s work.

Everything you read will enhance your technique.  Even bad pieces will make you better than you were.  It’s kind of like making dinner.
Everyone makes dinner, but the spices you put into it makes it yours.   A little salt goes a long way.

What happens if I don’t read?

Writers who don’t read find themselves inconsistent.  You will find yourself hitting plateaus one day and roadblocks the next.  You will eventually write yourself into a corner, having nowhere else to go.  Without the challenge of book and other material, you will simply run
out of words.

Reading is a very important step to become a good writer. Many people read books all the way to the end, but this is not always necessary. You need to read books or articles just to read them — to come up with new ideas and to learn new words.  This will help you to fall back in love with writing.

You really shouldn’t worry too much about completion; just start writing. Here is how you should start:

Don’t read to achieve any goals… You don’t need to read to finish everything that you’re reading.  Just read to read. This is a very important practice, so don’t put it aside.  Make reading a daily habit, a personal passion. And be sure to read all different kinds of media.

Study the art of language. As a writer, words are everything to you. Read anything. Just get started. If you don’t know where to start, them just grab anything.  You should also Google 1000 novels everyone should read.

Read what your friends and family are reading.
  If you are not sure where to start, you can read what other writers recommend. For
more on this topic, check out the best books on writing. You might want also to read this article: Writers on Reading

What else can reading do for me?books

Reading can encourage you to take more risks with your writing.  When I was writing my first mystery, I hit a brick wall.  I very much liked what I was writing, but I was stuck on a key issue and saw no way out.

While I was trying to figure out what to do, I took a break and read a couple chapters of an old book that wound up in my bookcase.  In this book, the writer quickly switched for one character to the next, letting each one tell their own part of the story.  This tiny bit of reading gave me an idea that changed my writing style and enabled me to finish my book, and two more.

The more we read, the more we get exposed to the range of possibilities for our writing. Reading not only expands your imagination, vocabulary and empathy but also your ability to reform your writing in unexpected ways.

Reading is good for you.  Reading helps to keep our brains active and is an activity that greatly reduces stress. If you are a writer you need this benefit. Reading is also pleasure that allows you to escape what you are doing, and take a well needed break from your life.

When you hit an obstacle in your work, you can hide out in someone else’s world.  Reading also gives you an added benefit of being alone in your own thoughts.

So many people seem to be losing the ability to be alone with nothing but their thoughts.  In the world today, people are filling these times with TV and video games.  We need to read.  Both writing and reading are solitary acts and if you can’t be alone with your thoughts as a reader, you will never know success as a writer.  We should read to give our souls a chance to breathe and luxuriate.

cerial boxSo, what now?

Now, you need to find something to read.  I recommend keeping several things on hand… magazines, old novels and maybe a best seller
or two.  When you get a bit stressed out, or if you just need a break, dive into someone else’s world and enjoy yourself.  Remember, anything you read, even a badly written article, can make you a better writer.  So, best of luck… and go read something!


4 thoughts on “The Need to Read

  1. You’re so right in your statement!! When you read more, and by reading I mean actually refined mediums without much grammar mistakes, you get to become more acquainted with writing style and concept. It just comes to you as second nature.

    I advise people using Grammarly. It’s a free app that corrects your grammar and spelling mistakes. In the long run, it actually improves your writing overall.

  2. Thanks for your helpful hints. Here’s a question: What do you recommend for writer’s block? I’ve heard that writing about the block is helpful, but I don’t know if that’s universal. Steven King, I know just wrote about the writer’s situation (Misery, The Shining). I’m sure you know how those protagonists ended up. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Kevin… I just published an article on writers block last week…  When I get writers block, which I rarely do, I like to take a book the park and read.  Usually changing the setting that your mind is stuck in helps a lot.  Best of luck, and thanks for stopping by… 


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