I’m sure you have heard it – from teachers, other writers and in books on writing – “Writers need to be readers.” Or something to that effect.
Writers work with words and it is in their best interest to know them well. A writer who doesn’t read is like a musician not listening to music or a chef who never samples other foods. Reading and writing go hand in hand.
Reading is not simply important for writers. It is essential to making them better writers.
Benefits of reading:
- Reading other works of fiction can give you strong fundamentals in story structure and plot development. You can learn many techniques just by reading a variety of other works.
- Reading allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work. Not all books with thrill you. You can learn a lot from books you don’t enjoy or don’t finish.
- Reading can inspire you and ignite your imagination.
- Reading can motivate you to move forward with your own work.
- Reading lets you gain new knowledge on a variety of different topics. It allows you to understand language better and can expand your vocabulary.
- Reading can expand your world. It allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and experience new things.
- Reading is a great way to escape. Skip learning anything and just enjoy being transported into another world.
And you don’t have to read just fiction. You can newspapers and magazines or non-fiction and how to books. Writers should read a variety of works.
I know sometimes we are busy and feel we don’t have time to read. Or sometimes we are so absorbed in our own work that we may not want to be distracted by reading. But there is always a time for reading whether it is daily, on weekends or just on vacation. You can read while you eat your lunch at work or while waiting in the pickup line at your child’s school or while they are in gymnastics or karate. Take this time to read a magazine instead of scrolling through Facebook.
And if you don’t have time to read, you can also listen to audiobooks on your commute, while doing chores or while exercising.
Side note – I’ll admit that when I am in the midst of writing – really in a groove – I resist reading. That is because often when I read, I do get absorbed into the story and all I want to do is keep reading. Then I end up reading when I should be writing.
You write for your readers. No amount of learning grammar rules and writing techniques can replace understanding your readers and to do that you need to be a reader yourself.
So take some time to read, to enjoy what you read. Get lost in the language, get lost in the story. Everything you learn as a reader; you can use as a writer.