The Importance of Reading for Writers According to a Writing Consultant and Editor

Hi there!

Reading and writing go together naturally. However, reading is not only the effect of a writer’s work, it is also what he should keep writing. Writers are some of the most voracious readers! Here are some good reasons to read if you are interested in writing.

1) Reading actively activates the imagination and creates better thinking. Studies have shown that this can be true for up to five days after reading a novel. Therefore, fiction writers are not only artists, they “stimulate the brain”!

2) Reading alerts you to what is popular in the market. This does not mean that it should be imitated. However, it shows types of things that are of interest to readers. Perhaps most importantly, it can show what is missing from the market. An original is better than a 1000th copy of something you already know.

3) Reading classics is important to determine what creates longevity in the character or plot. Changes in style can make classics seem aged or stagnant in their time because of their diction or syntax, but there is a reason that certain books remain classics while their contemporaries fade with age. Examine what makes a character, scene, or plot unforgettable, and therefore timeless, and remember it. This also applies to themes.

4) Reading expands vocabulary. Words literally sink into your brain and can be inserted into your writing. If you’re not sure if the word was used correctly, look it up! Most likely, your mind has already provided you with the perfect word through what you have subconsciously learned while reading.

5) Reading inspires. Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie recommended reading a good story before writing. I have often heard other writers say that reading a book has inspired them to write. Reading good fiction inspires good writing.

6) When I read fiction, I often hear agents advise reading within its genre to see what works, what is popular, how it can be done well, what should be included, etc. This is true, but I would suggest reading outside of your genre as well. At the root of every story is the character and the plot. You can still learn about characters and plots of a genre very different from yours. Even a book that you don’t like can teach you something, even if that’s what you want to make sure not to include in your own writing.

7) It is important not only to read fiction as a novel author, but also non-fiction. As an author of historical fiction, this is obvious. I have to learn about the past and its details to write. However, even for contemporary writers, nonfiction can provide information about a character’s career or hobbies or the location of the setting. Now perhaps a personality portrait of the character type can be explored through a book on psychology.

Happy reading and happy writing!

Best wishes to all of you,