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10 Reasons Writers Should Read

Updated: Jan 26

Today is a reminder to the writers among us, why you should read. This is not really a question. I know every writer knows they should read. This is a reminder to hopefully increase the quantity of your reading. I struggle with this constantly. If I am given a fixed amount of free time, which really is true of everyone as we have a life outside our writing, I am constantly choosing to work on the act of writing over the act of reading. Sometimes, I admit, it is even to the detriment of my own writing in the long term.

If writing is breathing out, reading is breathing in. You have to take stock of where you are in the landscape, what is working, and remind yourself of why you want to write in the first place. Here are ten very good reasons every writer needs to remember to read.


Ten reasons writers need to read

1)      Enhanced Vocabulary: Reading exposes writers to a wide range of words and phrases, helping to expand their vocabulary. A rich vocabulary enables writers to express ideas more precisely and creatively. Additionally, it reminds you when not to. Sometimes vocabulary needs to be varied not higher.

2)      Understanding Style and Structure: By reading various genres and styles, a writer can gain insights into different narrative structures, writing techniques, and storytelling methods. This exposure contributes to the development of their own unique voice. Remember we have talked many times about reading broadly to increase your skill set.

3)      Inspiration: Reading can spark inspiration for new ideas, characters, and storylines. Experiencing the creativity of other writers can ignite the imagination and motivate writers to explore new concepts. It lets us remember the feeling of what we loved about reading in the first place to keep reading. It will make us want to emulate the best we see out there.

4)      Improved Writing Skills: Exposure to well-crafted prose and effective storytelling can positively impact a writer's own writing skills. Observing how successful authors handle pacing, dialogue, and character development can serve as a valuable learning experience. It is too easy to think that we are special, and we have discovered some magical new way to write and any correction is stifling us. That could not be further from the truth. Untrained prose is hard to read, and we need to sit at the feet of those who have gone before and done it well.

5)      Understanding Genre Conventions: Different genres have distinct conventions and expectations. Reading extensively within a chosen genre helps writers understand these conventions and enables them to meet or subvert reader expectations effectively. We can only learn those with time and experience. Because they are both complex and broad we often do not even know them at a conscious level.

6)      Cultural Awareness: Reading exposes writers to diverse perspectives and cultures. This cultural awareness enriches their writing by providing a broader understanding of the world and its various nuances. It also lets you absorb cultures you do NOT want to emulate. Not every person needs to agree with every perspective. But we can’t disagree with the things we do not understand. Reading lets us understanding something well enough to know why we might disagree with it.

7)      Refinement of Critical Thinking: Analyzing and critiquing the works of others cultivates critical thinking skills. Writers who engage with literature critically are better equipped to assess their own work objectively and make constructive improvements. In other words, you are absolutely allowed to read a book and dislike it, what it has to say, and still acknowledge it is well written. Don’t just bail out when you read something you don’t like. Try to keep going and understand why, so you know how to avoid it yourself in your writing.

8)      Exploration of Themes and Ideas: Literature often explores complex themes and ideas. By reading widely, writers can delve into different philosophical concepts, societal issues, and human experiences, offering a deeper well of material for their own writing.

9)      Connection with Readers: Understanding the preferences and expectations of readers is crucial for effective communication. Reading helps writers connect with their audience by familiarizing them with the tastes and interests of their target readership. You can see what is selling in the market by reading and therefore know perhaps why your own work is or is not resonating with others.

10)   Continuous Learning: Writing is an evolving craft, and reading is a lifelong source of learning. Writers who continue to read remain open to new techniques, trends, and ideas, fostering continuous growth in their writing skills.


I have said before that when I do book reviews, I will never give a bad review. That doesn’t mean I don’t read bad books. I do. But it means I respect how hard it is to write a book at all. By reading we support the ecosystem of books that we want to foster. Just like the algorithm feeds the internet, the books you buy feed the world and yourself too.

So read well, and read often.

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I largely read to try to understand other people. Reading is basic hyperbole, but we also get the thoughts, feelings, and subsequent actions spelled out for many different character types. I think and hope it has helped me understand the world, and particularly the people around me, better. I think it's helped me be more accepting of (or even value) less mainstream personalities. This seems like an offshoot from the cultural awareness portion you discussed. In this and other aspects of reading, it ultimately helps me see a different perspective and allows me to have my mind changed from my upbringing. It is very hard to change one's mind in life, but after spending enough hours with a bo…

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