4 Reasons to Read Beyond What You Write

Reading this and reading that.
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I am assuming that all of the writers who read my blog are more than writers. I assume that you are also readers. Most writers read the types of books they write. If they are penning picture books, they read picture books. If they are working on nonfiction, they read nonfiction. But you should read beyond what you write and here is why.

Idea Are Everywhere

You never know where you are going to come across your next best idea. I read blogs. I read articles online. I read print magazines. And I read and listen to books of almost every kind. I say almost because when it comes to adult nonfiction, memoir and romance, I read some but I am super picky.

The first way that reading informs my writing is that I’m always coming away from my reading with new ideas. While reading picture books over the last month, I sketched down ideas about sacred land, Eleanor Roosevelt and a book about picky eaters.

Building Empathy

Studies have shown that reading about people who are different than us helps us to build empathy. This will shape how you think which in turn will shape the stories that you write. Editors are always on the lookout for authors who can write broadly. The instructions that came with my latest contract actually said “don’t take a side.” This is going to be fun!

Inform Your Writing

What you read informs your writing. Reading poetry and picture books teaches you to play with words. This is something that both my critique group and my editors have commented on in my work. Even when I write for teens, I have fun with language.

Reading mysteries are a great way to study pacing and plot reveals. Science fiction and historical fiction show you how to world build and create bridges between the world of your reader and the world of your story.

Prep You for Tomorrow

What you read today can also inform what you write in the future. For years, the majority of my work has been nonfiction. In spite of this, I continued to read fiction and why not? I love fiction! But the past two years I’ve also been writing fiction including my latest, a middle grade science fiction novel. My first scene sets an ominous tone and I use small details to create a setting that is futuristic and creepy. I learned to do this reading fiction although I wasn’t writing fiction at the time.

Read. Read what you write. Read what you want to write. Read everything that intrigues you. One way or another it will inform what you write.


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