Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Reading Regularly is Essential to Being a Good Writer

I have heard it said many times by writers, "I don't have time to read," or even, "I don't like to read." To me, at least, this is a very ironic statement. You want to write a book for people to read yet you're not taking the time to read other people's work? This seems a little hypocritical. I understand that everyone has busy lives, many people take pride in always being busy, I get that, but as a writer reading is important as typing the words in that documents and I'm going to tell you why. I know I brushed up a bit on this on my Why You Should Read--and Love It! post, but here I'm going to go into this specifically for writers.

1.) Learning the Craft From Published Authors - Somehow the folks who have written the various books you've seen in Barnes and Noble have gotten a publisher's attention. Sometimes this is a mystery. *refrains from listing off some titles* The point is studying other writer's craft is important. How is their pacing? Their characters? Their plot? Do you have problems with the book? What do you like about the book? Write those things down. Really analyze it. Learning from a master is how one increases skills.

Sokka needed a master. You need a master.
2.) Keeping Up with the Current Style of Writing - How we write has changed (and in my opinion and some other people's opinions) and improved over the years. In the scope of the world the public has only had consistent access to paper in the past few centuries and before about a hundred years ago books were a luxury. Because of the easier access of novels and the ability to produce more of them novels and the changing of cultures the way novels are written has had to change. Many people won't sit through infodumps anymore like in The Tale of Two Cities. People want to be entertained and now that there are so many books so easily accessed out there, there are so many other books people could read other than yours.

All that is to say, knowing what today's style of writing is like is important. It could make or break getting published. We have more rules and qualifications than we used to have. Reading current literature helps us learn what today's styles are like.

If you can read part of this then you'll know what I'm talking about.
3.) Keeping up with the Market - A writer in one of the many writing communities I'm in asked if an idea about a sword would sound good for her book. The problem is ... she basically describe the Master Sword from the Legend of Zelda ... to a T ... and many other magical special swords. I asked her if she'd even heard of the sword and she hadn't. I asked her if she'd even read many books in her genre and she said she hadn't.

We have to know what's out there already in the market, so we aren't accidentally thinking up too similar idea, because we just don't know what's been done. We also want to know what people like. Not that we should cater our stories to trends, but knowing what people are buying is very important because ...

*Zelda fanfare*
4.) Comparable Titles - If you want to take this writing thing all the way, you're eventually going to have to write a book proposal and when you write a book proposal you're going to have to find comparable titles. This job is made a whole lot easier if you have at least some idea about books out there remotely similar to yours. If you're already reading in your genre and reading books that have some of your story's elements, it's going to make this extremely boring tedious task a lot less extremely boring and tedious.

Yes it's boring but it's a necessary evil.
5.) Supporting Your Fellow Writers - All of these things aside, it's important to support your fellow writers. We're all in this writing thing together and we need to help each other out. By buying and reading an author's book you're giving them a paycheck to keep living their dream. Don't you want people to support you when/if you get published?

Support those writers. Make it so.
Conclusion - Above all reading is a great thing. That's why we write books write? Because stories are awesome to read. It's not only good for gleaning writing skills, but it's a mental health benefit (like I explain in the loving reading post). Even if it's just five pages a day, you can fit some reading into your schedule (Ava Jae has a great vlog on how to read more!). You won't regret it.

So true.

How has reading helped you write? Are there more important things about reading as a writer that I haven't mentioned? Have you ever had to find comparable titles for a book proposal?

If you liked this post, come back every other Tuesday for book reviews; Friday for tags, character interviews, and link-ups; Saturdays for writing advice and life updates; and Sundays for the Writerly Bundle which includes a new soundtrack piece, vocabulary word, and tea review! 

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