It’s that time of the month again for another post with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reading and how it can make you a better writer. It’s the one piece of advice I see time and again from published and indie authors who have been around for a long time in the business and even those who are just starting out.
I’ve always loved reading. My mom tells me that I started reading at a very early age. I can remember reading anywhere and everywhere. I’d read outside under the cherry tree in our yard. I’d read in my dad’s Ford Bronco. I’d read on the floor, in a chair, on my bed, in the bathroom, etc. My dad used to get mad at me in my early teens because I’d even read in the dark. I’d forget to put on the light. I bet reading glasses are in my future.
Since having kids my time for reading has gone down hill. I used to read about 30 books a year or more. I didn’t really count back then. There wasn’t a Goodreads challenge to help you remember. Last year I read a total of 7 books. It was the saddest year on record. I am happy to say that this year I have a new strategy and I am way ahead of any other year. So far I’ve read 12 books. I made a goal to read 40 in all but I hope to surpass that.
My strategy this year for reading is to read more in the genre I am currently writing for. My husband got me a PaperWhite Kindle for Christmas and I have been getting eBooks like it’s Christmas all year long. I love looking at the Kindle Daily Deals and finding those that are FREE or for $0.99. I normally just read whatever I am interested in and my genre’s are all over the place. I write dramas, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. I am learning a lot about the subject matter and what elements make up these genres.
I know reading makes you a better writer. Below are five things I’ve learned so far this year as I’ve embraced this new strategy of reading.
- I pay more attention to what they do with their words. How are they created, combined, inspired by other words? The meaning behind a simple phrase or series of words scattered throughout the novel.
- I love a good book with characterization. I love getting to know what makes them tick, happy, sad, vulnerable, etc. I love the cycle of redemption with a character. I love their weaknesses and how they try and overcome them. An amazing book to me is REAL. The characters are REAL.
- I read to be inspired. Sometimes I get stuck on a scene or the wording of a sentence. Those are the times I set my writing aside and read something. I am always amazed at how focused reading makes me and how I am inspired to go back and fix things. Or I get an idea after reading something amazing.
- Read lots of different genres. There are so many new genres these days and sub-genres. I am trying to just read all over the place but within reason of my tastes and likes. I find one element in one book and then cross apply that to another from some other book I’ve read. I think reading lots of genres helps you collaborate with the ideas in your head. I know that sounds strange but I am not sure how to say it exactly.
- Take notes or highlight a line or phrase you enjoy. I know this can make it seem more like research but reading is research for a writer. We are constantly looking at what makes the book we are reading great or bad. What makes it a 5 star review as opposed to a 3 star review.
“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.” – William Faulkner
How does reading make you a better writer?