Reading leads to better writing for many reasons, and National Book Month is the perfect time to highlight some of them! We would argue that books are both the means and the end for writers.
When we read, we engage in a shared culture with our readers. Whether we are reading what is popular on the market, discussed among our peers, or sitting at the top of our genre, we are forming connections that will enrich our writing imagination and our bond with our target audience. In other words, when we read, we grow.
But is all reading equally beneficial?
You may have heard Stephen King famously say that often “the bad books have more to teach than the good ones,” so you probably already understand that it’s not a waste of time to give a mediocre book a chance, or allow yourself to enjoy a book that isn’t going to win any awards. But there is a way to make the most of your time spent reading.
Read like a writer.
When you read with intention, keeping your eyes open for opportunities to apply what you are learning to your own writing, you may find that the novel on your night stand is as good a writing teacher as they come. This doesn’t mean that you can no longer read for pleasure, but do consider trying some of the following ideas:
Take advantage of your resources. Reading is market research, it’s professional development, and it is good intellectual exercise. If that’s not enough motivation to pick up the next book on your TBR pile, consider the fact that there is scientific proof that people who read live longer than those who don't!
So read widely and often. It makes for better writing!
by Anjanette Barr