When it comes to writing, what you read matters.
I’m sure you all heard how reading is important to become a good writer. This isn’t news! But, what you read is also very important. Reading is, without a doubt, fundamental, but it is only a component in the learning process. The second part is what you read. So truly, what do you read and why? Are you only reading what you like or do you like to challenge yourself?
One piece of advice I received – from a former editor who is now an agent – that stuck with me was “read extensively in the genre that you represent, but don’t stop there .” This advice stayed with me because it’s indeed easier to read books we know we’ll love versus reading the books that will challenge us; the books we’ll learn from.
The truth is that what you read truly matters.
When you read, have a purpose and keep these 5 points in mind.
Reading should always be a pleasure
I want to start off by saying that reading should be a pleasure and not torture. If you can’t find pleasure in reading, then you’re doing something wrong.
You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.–Paul SweeneyClick to tweet
Reading is engaging in a journey. You may experience different emotions, but boredom shouldn’t be one of them. There are so many genres and different styles out there that you should always be able to find something that interests you whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Reading is a wonderful experience, a way to travel to new places, to learn something, and/or to live different lives.
Again, if reading isn’t fun for you, you should rethink what you’re doing.
It’s ok not to finish a book
The second thing I would say is that it’s ok not to finish a book. If the book is torture, save yourself. As a rule of thumb, I go through the first 100 pages, and if I’m not hooked by then or I don’t feel like I’m learning something, I stop. Fortunately, it only happened to me a few times. The bright side is that when it happens you usually know why you stop, so you can make sure not to repeat the experience for your readers.
There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.–Josh JamesonClick to tweet
You may also not be in the right set of mind, the book may be about a topic you’re not interested in at the moment, or it may be because the book isn’t the best it could be. But, whatever the reason is, don’t force it if you can’t enjoy it.
I gave up books, and a year to two later, I read again and loved it simply because it wasn’t something I felt like reading at that time. I did not give it a proper chance. It won’t happen all the times, but it can very well happen. So, read what you have the heart to read, but always give it a chance. Don’t give up right away.
Read extensively in your genre
I said this at the beginning – Reading in your genre is important. Why? Well, for various reasons, but at the top of the list, it will:
– Help you know what’s been written before
– Give you ideas for your current work in progress
– Help you understand the structure and pacing
– Help you understand the development of the characters and how their inner and outer journey unfold.
If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.–Toni MorrisonClick to tweet
And, in relation to the point #1 – you also need to have fun while reading. I assume if you write in a particular genre, it’s because you enjoy it. Write a new story, bring your readers where they’ve never been before.
I love reading thriller and romance too and there is no problem with that, but reading in the genre you write about will help you develop the right tone and voice for your book.
Challenge yourself by regularly reading something out of your usual reading
Now I said “read extensively in your genre,” but it doesn’t mean only reading in your genre. Extensively doesn’t mean exclusively. You can learn a lot by reading in other genres. For example, if you need to build tension or a twist in your plot, reading thriller are very helpful. Reading romance can help you develop a love story.
Then, you can also read books in the genre you’re not familiar with. It will always bring you valuable lessons. Don’t only read the easy books or ones you like.
Books are here to entertain, but also teach you something. Don’t turn on them.
Improve your writing by reading
Finally, as I said in #3, reading will give you the tools to write.
Whether it’s about structure, pacing, character development, strengthening your vocabulary, or writing styles, books will always help you go on the right path. It’s easier to understand what you write if you understand what you like to read.
Reading is an important tool to become a good writer. Do not underestimate the power of reading. Of course, becoming a better writer should also involve a lot more such as writing extensively, learning everything you can about writing, meeting people in the business and finding individuals who will help you hone your craft.
Always show that you’re serious about writing because when you are, you’ll always be willing to be uncomfortable and go the extra mile.
So, what would you add to that list?
Did you enjoy the inspirational quotes? Find more here.