Writing Wednesdays: Why it's important to read, not just write

It's so important as a writer that you read, not just write. Read why in this post.

I’ve always loved reading. My bookshelves are constantly overflowing, and I honestly think that reading so much has helped me as a writer.

First off, when I talk about reading books to help you as a writer, I don’t just mean read books ABOUT the art of writing, or books in the same genre as you want to write. Read whatever takes your fancy. Non fiction, sci-fi, autobiographies, chick lit, murder mystery… It will all help.

Reading will help that wild imagination of yours.

All these different books have their own story to tell (God, did I really just say that?!) and each story will expose you to something different, something you might not have thought of, and something that might inspire you. 

You might start reading dystopian fiction and think that’s the kind of thing you’d like to write. Or it might be as simple as a character or a theme in a book that makes you think, ‘Huh, maybe I could write about something like that a bit more…’

Reading will help your grammar and spelling.

You’ll pick up on words and phrases, and sentence constructions, and how different pieces of punctuation are used, and you can try to use them in your own work, too.

You’ll find different styles of writing in different novels.

Every writer has their own style, and each of their books might have its own flair and twist. Historical fiction is written in a very different manner to YA romance, and that’s written differently to children’s fantasy. 

You might be stuck in writing one particular style, and reading all these different books will introduce you to other styles. Maybe you’ve only ever written in third person. What about first person? It’s things like that you might pick up on and think that you should try out because maybe it’ll work better for you.

It’ll also help you think about how you can develop your own story.

If you’re struggling with how to reveal a plot (twist) or how to develop secondary characters, then reading other books can help: enjoy the book, then maybe think about it analytically – the pace was good, you thought: was that because of how they revealed the plot? 

And the characters felt so real: what was it about them that made you feel that way about them? Sometimes you do have to look critically at books to think what things in there you can apply to your own story.

You might just reignite that spark that makes you love writing so much.

Maybe you’ve hit a bit of a block with your writing. Maybe you’ve lost faith in yourself and your writing and you wonder why you’re wasting your time with it because your story sucks and – and you need to take a break from thinking like that. 

Stepping away from your story and into someone else’s might make you remember why you love stories so much and might spark your imagination again to get you back into the swing of writing.

I’m also a big advocate of write what you want to read, not what you know – that’s how I ended up writing The Kissing Booth, after all.

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