If you’ve ever wondered what sorts of writing courses you should take to become a better writer, this post is for you. Here are three reasons why reading helps writing in the most useful ways.
Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #1: You’ll Pick Up New Skills
In a recent guest post, one of PPG’s top guest bloggers, Michael LaRocca, talked about why he is a voracious reader. Here’s what he had to say:
I read voraciously, a habit I recommend to any author who doesn’t already have it. You’ll subconsciously pick up on what does and doesn’t work. Characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot, story, setting, description, etc. But more importantly, someone who doesn’t enjoy reading will never write something that someone else will enjoy reading. (LaRocca, 2019)
Even Stephen King agreed with this when he said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
So, maybe you want to pay money for some writing courses. Fair enough. But, perhaps, your first step toward becoming a better writer is simply to pick up some books in your chosen genre and start reading. Start learning that way first.
Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #2: You’ll Be Inspired to Write
Whenever I get writer’s block (which we all get sometimes), I read something to cure myself quickly. In fact, writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another person’s work often find that they are more creative during their own writing sessions.
It doesn’t even have to be another book or anything related to your topic matter at all; it can be an online article, magazine, newspaper, or blog. Sometimes, the least likely source can inspire the greatest creativity. The most important point here is to keep yourself open and aware of the infinite pool of ideas all around you. Whatever it takes to get that first sentence out, do it. From there, thoughtful inspiration can—and will—take care of the rest. It always does.
I think this quote by Steven Wright sums it up well: “It usually helps me write by reading — somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.” So true!
Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #3: You’ll Have a Healthier Brain
Here’s an article you may find interesting: This is your brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford researchers are taking notes.
Researchers observe the brain patterns of literary PhD candidates while they’re reading a Jane Austen novel. The fMRI images suggest that literary reading provides “a truly valuable exercise of people’s brains.”
I think we’ve always known this. But now there is scientific proof.
Creativity is similar to muscularity in that it will begin to atrophy with a lack of regular stimulation. Just as even the finest athletes have those days when they must dig a bit deeper to find the will to carry on, all writers will have the same experience. Reading will help you keep your brain healthy which, in turn, will help your writing.
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