Are You A Writer Who Reads?


A writer who doesn’t read is like a chef who doesn’t eat anyone else’s food.   He becomes arrogant and unapproachable. A writer needs to be a reader of other people’s words. In so doing his own words improve.

What do you write?

Whether you write devotionals, poetry, articles or novels you should read. Read in your genre. If you write historical fiction you should read a lot of historical fiction. You should be reading contemporary fiction to see if the modern story can be put in an historical setting. You should be reading history books about the period and people in your novel.  All of this reading will make you a better writer.

Writers must read

There are authors who refuse to read books in their own genre fearing the influence those books might have on their present project. Others read them deliberately to discover why they are best sellers.

I meant a man once who rarely read but was writing a novel. He felt his story had to be told and of course was going to be a best seller. I thought good luck with that.  If he rarely read how he could possibly expect others to read his book.  Maybe the market was already filled to overflowing with books just like his.

Read the things you’d like to write

Read the books from publishers you want to see your manuscript. Decide what it is those publishers wants in a book. Read magazines you would like to write for. Learn what their needs are.

Read books about Writing

Read books that help improve your writing. A writer can never know it all. Best Selling Author Jerry B. Jenkins says he rereads Elements of Style by Strunk every year. A book choked full of grammar rules. On my own book shelf I have Stein On Writing by Sol Stein, Writing Breakout Novels by Donald Maas, Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas B Sawyer to name a few. I have books on writing query letter and proposals and resource books to help with writing historical descriptions.

Read to understand style

Jack London author of Call Of The Wild as a struggling unknown would read great literature. Then try to rewrite passages to see if he could improve upon them.  Reading the classics helps writers to see what books endure. And reading the paper helps a budding journalist understand what standard of writing style is needed to be successful in that field.

Read often

I feel a writer should always have something on hand she is reading even when she is in the middle of writing the great American novel.  While writing my historical fiction I read contemporary fiction during down times when my brain wasn’t functioning.  Whenever I’m not writing something I’m reading for pleasure or research.  I’m even reading blogs like this to encourage me in my craft.

So, my fellow-writers enjoy the taste of words. Ingest the published words of others and see how they nourish your writer’s soul.

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