Can I give you a truth bomb?
Reading books will make you a better writer.
In speaking with a colleague of mine just this morning, we had a conversation about how a client of hers wanted to become a better writer. Especially around having a more exciting and diversified vocabulary.
How do you learn more words?
But you can’t just scroll through Facebook and call that reading. (Not even if you click through and read articles!)
Only reading social media (or the news or magazines or pop fiction) is like eating nothing but potato chips and expecting to be buff and healthy. To read to improve your writing, you need to read the RIGHT types of books! Here are 12 suggestions to expand your reading diet and noticeably impact your skills as a writer.
1. Don’t just read a single type or genre of book
Just like only eating noodles, only readying non-fiction business books isn’t a balanced reading diet. Read a variety of books: non-fiction and fiction, different genres. And don’t forget to read men and women authors!
2. Read the greats
Not everybody is in love with a “classic” or an author you “should” read. Here’s a hint: I’m not a Jane Austen fan! But there are great pieces of literature in all genres. You need to read the authors who have really mastered their craft and can make their words sing!
3. Read award winners
Liking a book is totally subjective. So if you’re stuck on where to start, I’d suggest working your way down a list of book award winners. These aren’t necessarily best sellers! They’re the books that the literary community says are excellent. I personally love the Newbery Award Winners – young adult novels.
4. Go back to a book you loved
Remember that book that moved you? The one that stuck with you? Read that one again! Figure out WHY you loved it so much. I have a list of my go-to books that I love to re-read. (And yes, some of them are kids or young adult books!)
5. Don’t force it!
I’ve tried Moby Dick about a dozen times. The last time was when Small Thing was just a few weeks old and I even tried to get into it by reading it aloud to him. For whatever reason, I just can’t get into it and I’ve always really wanted to read it. If you’re reading something you really can’t stand, you have my permission to find something else to read.
6. Force yourself to finish
Yep, I’m completely contradicting #5. See, I think there’s something to be said for forcing yourself to finish a book that just isn’t doing it for you. Figure out WHY you can’t get into it. What mistake is the author making that keeps you from being engrossed? Then you’ll know to avoid it in your own writing.
This is especially true in self-published books since so many of those authors didn’t invest in the right type of writing support and mentorship. I’m 73% of the way through a memoir right now (Kindle tells me how far along I am) and while the subject is engrossing, I HAD to put it down. I can’t take more of the same. This book would have been even better with better editing!