Why you have to read if you want to be a writer
Ardent readers of Writing Wednesdays may be familiar with this post, on why you should read and not just write. I wanted to expand on that again, because it’s something I feel pretty strongly about.
If I’m being brutally honest, I don’t understand how you can enjoy being a writer without enjoying reading, too.
Reasons to read if you want to be a writer:
First and foremost, read for inspiration. Reading (especially across genres, and different authors) gives you a broad perspective on things as well as showing you new writing styles, new concepts, new characters…
Sometimes I’ll read a book and I’ll feel really inspired to write, and it’s not even like, ‘Oh man I could write something like this!’ Sometimes it’s more along the lines of, ‘WOW, I feel incredibly moved by this book and now I just want to WRITE!’
Do you know the feeling? I love that feeling.
You might also like this post on why I say to write what you’d read.
Supporting other writers.
This is a big one whether you’re traditionally published or self-published (online). It’s massively important to support other writers: if the industry does well, you’ll do well! And wouldn’t you like to see a writer you liked praising or sharing your work? They’ll like it too. It gets their book out to another audience, and generates a great feeling in the community.
For instance, you might find hashtags relevant to your genre – I particularly love the #ukyachat that runs on most Friday nights on Twitter. So much fun!
Communicating with other authors/writers.
Equally important. Tweeting or messaging them online, reading their book and letting them know that you love it… If you talk to them, they can talk back. It helps create the sense of community that really helps your story get some support and recognition and helps the industry.
(I say the industry like we’re all totally corporate… And we aren’t, but of course it’s great to make money from doing something you love, like writing, and I wasn’t sure what other word to use here for the same effect.)
You might also like this post on the pros and cons of publishing online.
Improving your own writing.
(Duh!) If you’re not confident with punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, spelling, speech… Not to mention more ‘complex’ literary techniques like metaphors and all the rest… It can really help you to improve by reading around. And reading a book is probably a lot more fun than reading a schoolwork-tone article on how to properly use a semi-colon.
And even if you’re a more confident writer, it can help you to hone your tone and use of language. It can also help you with your character and plot development.
And, of course, you can discover new genres and trends!
Books like The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay started a whole sub-genre of YA called ‘sick-lit’. The Hunger Games sparked a rise in dystopian novels. The more you read, the more you’ll discover. You might just find a (sub)genre that you feel really at home with.
And who knows where that could take you?