If you want to write well, read a lot.
When I started to love to read again, my journey to becoming a badass writer accelerated. I disliked reading for a really long time. I was a slow reader in school, and I struggled to make my eyes and brain work in sync to get those textbook lines read in any effective way. I’d re-read over and over. I’d look at the clock a bazillion times, dreading what I already knew; only three minutes had passed since I last looked.
Who’d have thought I’d grow up and become a writer?
While my friends would say things like, “Have you read the new Harry Potter book?” I’d shrink thinking, OMG, no, I hate reading. So other than mandatory book-reading for school, my reading consisted of TeenBeat, mostly staring at the pretty pictures of Shawn Cassidy.
The only books I enjoyed reading as a kid were the Little House on the Prairie books, and that might only have been because Laura was the name of the main character. I’ll add some Nancy Drew and Narnia to that list, but honestly, it felt like a chore, even when I was enjoying the subject matter.
When I started writing for other people to read there was this voice that said, you know you really ought to read more. I resisted. My excuses? No time. No energy. No motivation. Occasionally I’d overhear someone in a coffee shop, “Wow, have you read that new book Blah Blah? It was amazing! A must-read!” I read one or two of those, but ended up putting them down part-way through.
Reading made me tired.
Who needs a sleeping pill when you’re passed out after one page? After I became an entrepreneur, reading was something I needed to do to build my business, so books with titles like Business Plans 101, and How to Build a Successful Business became what I forced myself to read. Non-fiction and self-help were it, and the only way I could justify reading as beneficial.
There was a point when I picked up a book about healing and things changed. Many of you have read The Secret, and The New Earth. These books excited and changed me; the subject matter was something I loved. I felt inspired. The bonus was they were also helpful to my goals and vision as a healer. I started eating them up one by one. My love for reading returned.
But, it wasn’t until after I wrote my first book (after, not before!) that I realized if I wanted to write things other people enjoyed reading, I’d have to read… a lot more.
I wish I’d been paying more attention to the books I did read before I wrote my first book. I consider that experience a lesson. I have a tough time reading my old writing. It’s not what it is today. In fact, I’ll throw in my greatest tip for writers here: read your stuff out loud to yourself before you publish it (another blog for another day).
When I started reading to become a better writer I had a different purpose for the reading. I started enjoying it more and noticed how it helped me write differently. When I was aware, the writing came alive. When I was awake inside of those pages, things changed, and I started getting excited about doing what those authors were doing to me; making me feel things!
No matter if it’s magazine articles, blogs, reports or books you want to write, reading is going to help you get better at it!
Here are 5 Ways Reading Will Make You a Better Writer (and why you must do these things if you expect your writing to evolve into the brilliance you hope for):
You’ll Learn What Not to Do.
You know how sometimes we need to learn what we don’t want to get to what we want? Reading will help you be clear about what you want to aspire to, and what sucks. Pay attention to what bores you and you’ll have a clue what not to do in your writing.
You’ll Learn New Ways to Write the Same Thing.
When you read you’re going to get new ideas about how to describe something that’s been written about a million times. You’ll realize there’s more than one way and then you’ll begin to find your own way. In fact, if you Google “Reading to become a better writer” you’ll be overwhelmed by the list. So why am I picking the topic if it’s already been done a thousand times? Because nobody did it the Brave Healer way!
You’ll Build Your Vocabulary.
Reading is one of the ways you’ll get excited about the magic of words, learn a new one and then decide which ones you’d like to use in your writing. Every word has energy. Reading helps build your toolkit.
You’ll See What’s Missing.
I write about health, wellness, healing, and empowerment. When I read more I have an understanding of what’s missing and add my unique twist to the subject matter. There really are no original ideas. Most everything has been done before. But what I realized is…it hasn’t been done by me. Reading has helped me get excited about topics I’d like to give my two cents to.
Reading is the Best Writing Class.
When you read, especially something you love, you’re getting the best possible education, right there in those pages, about how you might tweak your writing. Pay attention to the art of it. How did the author introduce a character, build tension, get you hooked, move you down the page? Pay attention!
There are more reasons than this. A couple authors in my Facebook group said this about reading:
“Reading stretches my horizon, moves my edges into new and unknown territory. It bends me, challenges me, and opens me up to take a risk and follow the lead when I write.” – Manuela Rohr, Owner of Yoga with Manuela
“Reading makes me a better writer because it opens me up to new ideas, interesting ways to say something differently than I might write it myself, and provides me an escape to recharge my writing batteries.”- Lynn Dehnke, Author of Overcoming Warrior and Meditate and Declare.
Lay your ideas on me in the comments if you like and let’s build the case for reading!
So, what are you reading right now?