Welcome to week 2 of my HOW-TO blog series for writers!
Today, we’re talking about How-To be a better Writer:
My last post covered the workspace. This weeks issue is a quick and easy post on one of the most basic and most overlooked necessities for any writer, no matter the genre.
All Writers Must Be Readers
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is. See, reading for pleasure will make you a better writer. It’s a fact. Ask any successful author. It will also make you smarter. Reading regularly is like gymnastics for your brain.
And still, you’d be surprised how many hopeful writers I have met who don’t read for pleasure. Ever. It’s appalling really. And yet they are trying to put their work out into the universe and expecting the masses to do the thing that they do not. Which is to Read.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it is impossible to become a successful writer without being a Reader. It is definitely possible, but HIGHLY UNLIKELY.
Writing is hard work.
And the odds are hardly ever in your favor. Consider that we live in an age where any yahoo can post basically anything they want on Smashwords and KDP (Amazon), and call it a book. Most people don’t do that. I mean, A LOT of them are really GOOD, but some of them aren’t.
So when you and I spend a year of our lives creating a plot, characters, and storyline that we are sure will change the world, it can be difficult to get your book-baby to rise above the masses when it has to wade through all the crud.
For me, writing is the most fun I will ever have in my life on any given day. That is why I do it: because I love disappearing into the worlds I create, into the lives of the characters whose existence is so much more exciting than mine. But the time it takes, the devotion it requires to find critique partners, to self-edit, to take the criticisms, and more editing, the marketing, and cover design … It’s not always fun to reread the same manuscript a ba-jillion times.
But I do it. We Writers do it.
And since the mere task of writing a book that someone else may actually want to read can be so daunting, and the odds of getting our work into the hands of the right people with the power to make our collective Best-Selling dreams come true are slim, we have to put in the effort to make ourselves good writers. So there’s less work overall. And being a Reader is one small way to make sure that you don’t have so much POST-writing work to do.
Reading someone elses work can help in SO many ways. Like enlarging your vocabulary– other authors won’t describe things the same way you would. Some of them are very crafty with their “gymnastic linguistics.”
Some of them are better at transitions than we are.
Some of them can say a lot more with a lot fewer words.
Reading can make you see the bigger picture– authors with major publishing houses have a team of people around them to help make their books better than they ever could have on their own. So when you read their books it can help you get a better idea of what a well-structured story should look like. This also helps if you are looking to land a major publisher.
And reading is FUN! It’s exercise for your brain.
It does what nothing else on earth can do: it lifts your imagination, takes you out of your own head, and puts you inside someonelse’s. You can learn about places you’ve never been, meet people you never would have dreamed of. You can travel through time and have the adventure of a lifetime.
No one in their right mind should want to say “No” to that. (Judgy, I know, but it’s true)
So, dear Writers, do yourself a favor and Read.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to do so. And when you’re finished with that book, help an author out and leave a review. Afterall, word of mouth is how most Readers decide to what to read next