You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to learn is to read. Even if you’re stuck in one place, you can see the whole world through the eyes of a book. You can “experience” things you might never get the chance to experience just by reading. Even if you’re not a writer, reading is an amazing tool, but for writers, it’s especially helpful. Reading actually makes you better at writing.
But we often get so busy as writers that we don’t get the chance to enjoy a good book as well as get something out of it. Think of when you go to the doctor and they tell you all kinds of things to do to stay healthy when they aren’t even healthy themselves. It’s just as strange to meet a writer who doesn’t read. It’s like they’re refusing to take their own advice!
In this post, we’re moving on to point two in How to Write a Great Book: Read for info. Avid reading can help turn you into a better writer. We’ll cover how reading can:
- Help you learn new things
- Help you find your own voice and style
- Inspire new thoughts and ideas
- Encourage you to reflect on your own writing
- Help you emulate successful authors
We’ll also cover how you can improve your reading so you’re reading like a writer, thus getting the most out of each of your reading experiences in order to improve your books and thereby become more successful.
Reading Helps You Learn New Things
This may be quite obvious, but I’m always amazed at how my writing flourishes after a long bout of reading. I have experienced a new world, met new and interesting characters, and seen new vocabulary and grammar usage in context. After reading, I have a host of new words at my disposal, and I’m not just stuck in the same writing rut.
A daily dose of reading can help you widen your world of words and just general information! For me, it actually encourages me to do my own research when I’m confronted with something I’ve never heard about before such as a particular historical event or a famous person.
While you’re reading, you might learn new words or even just new ways of using them that you might not have considered before. It’s just the kind of thing that will breathe new life into your writing. Also related to vocabulary, you can also see different uses of grammar. Perhaps you will learn something new about grammar as you peruse books, or even find a difficult part of grammar tackled effectively.
Reading Helps You Find Your Own Voice and Style
Everyone has a style and a voice they employ in their writing. It just comes out naturally. But often we can get so stuck in our own heads that our flow gets broken up, and the voice gets muddled. Reading something else can help loosen everything up a bit and get rid of that blockage. By reading someone else’s style and voice, you can return to your own writing with new eyes, ready to find your own voice again.
Reading also helps you pick out what works and what doesn’t work in a book in terms of style and voice. This can help you improve your writing because you can work to avoid what’s just not cutting it.
Sometimes authors inspire you to try new styles, especially if you really enjoyed the way they’ve written their books. It can be a wonderful, beneficial exercise to practice writing in a different style in order to see if that fits with your own. Take it from us. As a ghostwriting company, we have seen and worked on all kinds of books. We know voice, and we know style, and our writers who read create the best books and have the most engaging style.
Reading Encourages You to Reflect On Your Own Writing
It can be difficult to reflect on your own writing because it’s such a personal part of you. However, just like anything else, you’ve got to think about it in order to help make improvements. To give yourself a little encouragement, start being critical about the books you read. As you read, think about what makes the book good or not. For example, start reading some bestsellers and reflect on why they’ve done so well.
Then turn to your own writing with that same critical eye.
- What’s going on there that’s really good?
- What’s not so great, and how could you improve it?
- Does anything spark your own creativity?
The task is an overwhelming one, so take it one step at a time. Maybe a page, a chapter, or a section. Even looking at one of your paragraphs can still be helpful in getting you to think critically about your writing.
Reading Inspires New Thoughts and Ideas
I mentioned earlier that we can get stuck in our own head. That old writer’s block can really be a difficult thing to manage. But with reading, you’ve got fresh new ideas, fresh new words, and fresh new perspectives right at your fingertips. Think of your reading time as inspiration time! Just for a little while each day, you can relax and let someone else think of the story or the writing for a change while you read. You’ll be amazed at what you pick up that you start to thread into your own work.
Read in different genres
I can be guilty of wanting to read all in one genre, but it’s essential to expose yourself to all kinds of books. Why? The answer is simple. To get the most out of reading that you can. Read in a variety of subjects, genres, styles, lengths, etc. While reading in one genre is still beneficial reading, you’ll expand even more as a writer, the more you expose yourself to.
Read a few books at once
That being said, reading in your genre (whether fiction or nonfiction and associated subgenre) should definitely be a part of your reading tasks. You could even have a couple of books going at one time. One book fits into your genre and the others are different books you’re reading.
Reading Helps You Emulate Successful Authors
Successful authors are doing something right. Start reading books from various successful authors and ask yourself a few questions.
- What are they doing right?
- What do I like about them?
- How can I incorporate similar skills in my own writing?
It might even be a good idea to take a section of a book by a famous author and see if you can’t try to emulate their style. See how it feels and if you like it or not. This would be a great idea to try this exercise for multiple genres as it could help you find your niche.
How to Read Like a Writer
Start becoming an active reader in order to get the most out of your reading experience. Take notes and highlight important sections that you want to refer to yourself later. Start with one element at a time as you read. Maybe you want to focus only on how the author structures their dialogue. Or you want to focus only on how they build suspense. Pick one element and focus on that as you read, taking notes about that particular element.
Read with a purpose. You want to enjoy the book, of course, but you also want to figure out how and why it works, if it does.
Become a better writer through reading. Just starting to add reading into your daily schedule is a great and easy way to begin. Happy reading! (and happy writing!)
Here are some sites to help you get started:
Want to take your manuscript to the next level? Take a look at our developmental editing services at HotGhostWriter. Our editors can help you take what information you’ve gleaned from reading (to improve your writing) and polish it into a masterpiece. A better book is only a click away!