Reading and Writing…to be an author, you need exceptional skills with both of these two activities. Many writers are so busy, they don’t take time to read. This, my friends, is a huge mistake. Some readers spend all their time reading, but never dare to believe they could write! This, too, is a mistake for some. Not everyone wants to write, but for those who do, an avid reading habit is a marvelous beginning.

What is it about reading that helps a writer so much? You’d be surprised. Growing up, I was a voracious reader and I still try to devour at least 1-3 books a month (usually a whole lot more). I found that, the more I read, the more I wanted to write. Again, not everyone feels this way, but many do. When I was an adult and desired to pursue publishing, I did something that damaged my writing ability: I stopped reading. Not altogether, but I didn’t have that same flair for it anymore. I was “too busy”. You know what happened? My writing suffered. Once I was working from home on my writing, I realized that reading is a part of the job and I began to devour books once more. What happened? My writing improved. Significantly.

How are Reading and Writing Connected? 

>> Reading Gives Writers a Grasp of Language: The English language (and any other for that matter) is difficult. If you ever sit and think about it, your language is FASCINATING. It is full of many hollows and depths that may remain unexplored…until you pick up a particularly challenging book and marvel at the complex, woven tapestry of written words. When writers immerse themselves constantly in the written word, whether it be a book, magazine article, blog post, etc., they surround themselves with (hopefully) well written prose and poetry. The sentence structures, parts of speech, diction, and rhythm will be constructed in such a way that it is pleasing to the reader and the mind. This gives a writer a consistent opportunity to soak up correct language presentation. Then, the writer should go and do likewise.

>> Reading Enables a Writer to Understand Artistry: Writing interesting and life-changing books is a heady task and the authors who manage it well are the ones who go further with their writing than merely correct language usage. They inspire, create, and weave words that paint vivid pictures or convey mystical metaphors. These authors use words to alter reality within their stories and within the reader’s mind. Writers who read consistently will notice that their own work begins to take on a flavor of its own. It won’t be a carbon copy of another author’s work, because a good writer will read a variety of content and be shaped and molded by the different styles and influences of many authors and stories. Your writing will be wholly unique, if you keep reading and writing in tandem. For instance, I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, but even when I try to write a humorous story like his…it never quite “sounds” the same! That’s because Mr. Pratchett has also been influenced by an unknowable amount of written content and my experience has not and will not be the same as his.

>> Reading Exposes Writers to a Variety of Issues and Questions: Not all books will be earth-shattering when it comes to dealing with central life-issues, but many will. Most authors have questions they are seeking answers to in writing particular stories or novels. For instance, Francine Rivers (an extremely gifted Christian author) often strives to receive answers to certain, difficult questions she has about faith and Christian living when she writes her novels. People who then go and read her books will be exposed to challenging situations and decisions revolving around hard topics. This helps a writer to better understand problems and issues that they may never have faced in “real life”. If a writer is aware of the many challenges and trials facing humanity, it helps them to create real and relatable characters and situations even in a story that takes place two thousand years in the future on an alien planet!

>> Reading Helps Writers to Become Better Editors: Let’s face it, folks. Sometimes, we read books that are not edited well and that have a variety of language and story problems.  That author will continue to learn and grow. Instead of blasting them, we should be encouraging and supporting them to challenge themselves for greater writing endeavors! That being said, writers that read have an exceptional opportunity to practice proofreading and developmental editing skills. Even in the tomes created by bestselling authors, it is possible to practice our analytic language skills and to try to see the bones of a story! Everything may be spectacular! Great! If it is, how did the author do it? How did they blend characters, plot, setting, and symbolism to build a story that enchanted you? Once you answer yourself (during reading), think of those things when you are editing your own work! If an author consistently made a language mistake or used language in a way that you didn’t like, avoid it in your own work!

>> Reading Stimulates the Writer’s Imagination: After reading anything, I come away with an imagination teeming with new ideas and warmth. Reading the stories of others helps a writer to snatch elements that they love, let them marinate in their own minds, and then use them in entirely new and exciting ways! Bono in a U2 song once said, “Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief”…In some ways, it’s totally true! There is a huge difference between inspiration and plagiarism, however. A good writer will know the difference. One way to learn this difference is to read all the time and write as much as you can. If your story is too similar to another author’s, scrap it and start over. Try to use your “inspired” ideas in a new, fresh way! Or, take them out all together, but use the seedlings to come up with a wholly original concept.

>> Other articles that speak on the magical connection between reading and writing: 

Why Writers Need to Read if They Want to be Good

Why Writers Must Read

Why You Should Read Other Stuff

In case you’re not already convinced that writers should be the best readers, go out and try it for yourself! If anything, you’ll enjoy yourself while diving into a great book! I promise, however…if you have lofty writing goals, one of the largest steps to success is to develop a voracious reading habit and become “booked” for life! (I love my puns…don’t judge).

Happy Tuesday! Go out there and read! Then write!

Reading and Writing: Two Sides of the Same Coin
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  • I couldn’t agree with you more L.M.

    • Aww, thanks! It probably goes without saying that writers should read more than they write, but so many of us get busy and bogged down with “life” that we don’t make enough time for it. This year, I challenged myself to read just 12 books and I’ve nearly tripled that goal already! YAY!

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