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Does Reading Make You A Better Writer?


Absolutely. I am completely convinced that the more we read, and the more widely we read, the better writers we become.

Not only does additional reading improve our knowledge and perspectives of the content, it also exposes us to the craft of writing. Subconsciously, we learn how to pull sentences together, grab attention, and notice when we might have rambled on for a bit too long...

You can think of the 'reading-for-writing' process as similar to to that of language acquisition. Toddlers learn to speak because they listen to people speaking. The same is true of anyone learning to speak an additional language. If we never hear Spanish spoken, we are going to struggle to speak Spanish ourselves!

Exposure to what you are trying to learn is key! If you want to write novels, read novels! If you want to write a business blog, read a successful one; if you want to write a screenplay, read the script of a film you've recently enjoyed.

This is not to say that you should read ONLY in the area that you wish to write in. By reading widely I think we learn just as much about how we don't want to write - certain styles that just don't suit you or your subject matter.

I particularly love non-fiction writing, but sometimes I start a book and just don't get on with the tone of voice. Does this ever happen to you? Next time it does, try and unpick WHY. Write a critique! Imagine you're a teacher marking a student's work, or a book reviewer in a newspaper... how would you alter and improve this piece if you had written it yourself?

There's no need to actually tell the person what you think of their writing - this exercise is purely for yourself. Have you given any advice that you could apply to your own work?

I also like to read reviews of books or blogs I have read - this tells me what other people think of the writing, which can be useful if you have a commercial agenda for your writing. How is it received in the industry? What do critics like and dislike?

I sometimes like to interrupt my reading to do a bit of writing in response. This might be a tiny note jotted down, or a free-fall exercise that goes on and on for three pages. Either way, it can be good inspiration in both a thematic and technical sense.

Whether you're enjoying a cosy evening with a book or reading a magazine in your lunch break, reading will be stimulating the language part of your brain and expanding your vocabulary. If you want to read and write digitally, that's fine too. How do different online reading experiences compare?

By experiencing a variety of writing you are learning. Always.


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