The Best Way to Be a Better Writer…

This quote from the legendary Stephen King says it all:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Forget reading articles about writing, or how-to books, or getting other people to teach you. Those are all good ways to refine your craft, but the best, easiest way to grow as a writer is to sit down with a good novel and just read. To a writer, reading someone else’s work is kinda like learning by doing — seeing how someone else has written their story, what techniques they’ve used and how they’ve executed their ideas increases your own understanding of writing and gives you inspiration that will help you write.

Just make sure you're reading a book that actually has stuff written in it.

Just make sure you’re reading a book that actually has stuff written in it.

It kinda seems like an obvious thing to say (since it’s usually taken for granted that most writers are also readers), but you’ll be amazed how many people totally engross themselves in writing and never have the time (or never want to) just read something. I used to know a guy in one of my university creative writing classes who said he never read books outside of school; he wanted the professor to teach him how to be a writer so he wouldn’t have to read (and she just assigned him more stuff to read anyway). Writing isn’t like that. It’s impossible to grow as a writer if you don’t have a frame of reference to which to compare your own work — the only way to get this frame of reference is to be aware of what other writers are doing.

How can you hope to be a better writer if you only ever see your OWN writing?

I feel a little sad that there are so many new writers these days who don’t see the importance of being avid readers. There’s a lot of mediocre writing out there in the indie scene (and even in traditional publishing — though not as much), filled with careless mistakes that the authors would never have made if they were more widely read and understood what really makes for good writing. If you’ve read a lot of books, surely the most important conventions of writing would gradually sink in, and become second nature to you, right? After you’ve seen so many writers use the same techniques, it only seems logical that you’d remember some of them and employ them in your own work.

What do you guys think? Grab a book and get reading (mine, preferably 😉 ).

2 Responses to “The Best Way to Be a Better Writer…”
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  1. […] think of how to make your dull story have more oomph? Look around for inspiration – Read more. Stop saying your piece is dull. Writers are always so damn […]

  2. […] like one percent of Stephen King’s entire body of work, may take me a while yet) but since reading is the best way to become a better writer it still technically counts. Most of these books are ones I’ve read before, thankfully […]

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