Do You Want to Write Better?

A common desire among writers is to hone their craft and write better.

Nothing can help you get better at writing than reading. Read all kinds of things—books of different genres, blogs, articles, cooking instructions on the back of packages—anything and everything. It is essential to your development as a writer.

Here’s how reading helps you hone your writing skills:

Builds Your Vocabulary

This is one of the most important reasons you should read. As a kid, my summer vacations were spent doing a very simple yet effective exercise. I was told to read a book and write down the words I didn’t understand. I was then supposed to pick up the dictionary, find their meanings and make sentences with each word. This ensured that my brain truly registered the word and eventually made it part of my vocabulary. When you experience good writing you consciously or subconsciously add words, phrases, similes and metaphors to your arsenal. This makes a huge difference to your writing style and helps you write in a clear and concise manner.

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. ~ Oscar Wilde Click To Tweet

Puts You in the Reader’s Shoes

While reading you are able to judge more accurately what a reader needs and expects from a story. You learn how to build-up to the climax, which scenes need the protagonist’s monologue or flashbacks. How well do you justify when a love triangle ends? Will killing your ‘Jon Snow’ of the story the best move? Reading different genres and different styles of writing help you decide your likes and dislikes while developing your own writing style. It helps you learn how to communicate subtle sarcasm or deep grief. You learn how to show and not to tell.

Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If… Click To Tweet

Shows You How to Plot

Your story needs to make sense. The thrill, the conflict of lovers or the grand hero who lands in the nick of time to stop the bombing, all the twists and turns need to be planned just right and come as close to perfection as possible. What better way to learn this imperative writing skill than by reading someone else’s soul-fulfilling work? Reading helps you plot and structure your own story immaculately. After all, can a writer read an exquisitely-crafted Jeffery Archer story and not make mental notes on how to deliver a twist the reader never saw coming?

Inspires Creativity

Reading is undoubtedly one of the best ways to come up with ideas for your idea bank. When you read you get transported to another world and this experience opens you up to endless possibilities! You could discover your love for a new genre you never thought you would attempt or maybe a inspire you to re-write the ending of your ongoing novel with a juicy twist!

Think before you speak. Read before you think. ~ Fran Lebowitz Click To Tweet

Teaches You Characterization

More often than not it’s not the story itself but the characters that entice. Some writers do an impeccable job of creating memorable characters. The underdog you root for, the imperfectly perfect heroes that you grieve and celebrate with. It doesn’t matter if your story is laid outright if the reader cannot connect with your character. Writing a dull and boring character is blasphemy, it totally sucks out the joy of reading. Reading shall thus inspire you to punch in just the amount of detail and a pinch of love that makes for a soul-satisfying read. There are a large number of people who believe that Sherlock Holmes—the super sleuth—was a real person, so vivid and life-like was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characterization!

Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author's words reverberating in your head. ~ Paul Auster Click To Tweet

What should you read?

This is a rather debated topic. Some say that since reading influences you as a writer, you should be very particular about what you read. The words that find home in your subconscious are bound to find their way to your writing. While others say you should not restrict yourself to reading the high-browed classics, the only mark of quality, as it may seem like a chore. After all, writers read not only to improve their style and vocabulary but also for entertainment and inspiration.

Frankly, you should read everything; classics and contemporaries, and different genres. Thanks to internet, blogs and articles online also make a great source of knowledge and information on various subjects. Most importantly, one should read books on how to write better. The authors of such books are passionate and well-accomplished in the craft of writing and hence their tips and tricks can prove to be invaluable.

How will you find time to read?

Think of reading as eating. Just as you must find time to eat or your body will shut down, so must you find time to read or your writing brain will shut down. Reading material is to your writing mind as food is to your body and joy to your soul. It is vital.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. ~ Stephen King Click To Tweet

Read on your commute to work if you use public transport (not while driving, for obvious reasons). Dump that newspaper and read for half an hour in the morning or just before sleeping or while running on the treadmill! You just have to find the time whenever you can. Go for audiobooks you can play on your car stereo as you drive, cook or go for your morning walk. Honestly, you really don’t have an excuse—not in this tech-enabled world. Yes, tough luck!

So how many books do you read or plan to read in a month? Any creative tips on how to manage time for reading from your busy schedules? Let us know in the comments below!