Updated: Mar 2
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved to read. I would spend days in my room finishing a book with the din of other children playing outside in the background. I’m not sure exactly when I started reading, but I do know that I started writing when I was eight years old. I wrote short stories about animals that I shared with family and friends. The work of writers enchanted me so much that I had to tell my own stories, too. Was it possible for me to have the same effect on people that the books I read had on me?
Surely I’m not the only writer inspired to write because of my love of reading. There are many writers, I’m sure, so enamored by a book that it makes them itch for the pen in their own hand. Writing is a timeless form of communication, and nobody truly writes only for themselves. We write to get our thoughts out, and even when we don’t share our writing, something triggers that need to write down what’s in our minds. What if reading and writing go hand in hand? In many ways, reading makes you a better writer. That’s not to say that everyone who loves to read is automatically skilled at writing. How and what you choose to read is as important as the fact that you do read at all.
One wonderful way to grow as a reader and a writer is to read the work of small, unpublished writers. Read the work of friends, or find a writing forum online where people share their work (The Writer’s Workout is one great option!). Noticing things that you don’t like or giving other writers feedback makes you think critically about what you’re reading. Challenging yourself in this way reinforces it in your mind, and you’ll remember it when you’re writing your own work.
When you read, think about it. Think about the overall picture of whatever you’re reading. But more than that, think about each sentence, and notice the techniques that you see and how they work. Think about what characters say, and how it conveys their persona. As a writer, you know how much thought goes into each line and what you want the reader to see in your work. What details do you notice in your favorite books that make them your favorites?
Personally, I love to read humorous books. Whether that means the characters say funny things, or the author’s tone itself is humorous, I can’t get enough of funny reading material. Perhaps simply because I read so much of it, I’ve adopted a lot of this humor in my own writing. Often as a writer who loves to read, you’ll unconsciously start to take on techniques you’ve noticed in other authors’ work. Whether you mean to or not, you will benefit from reading what you love.
About the Author: Tawny Wagner is a recent graduate of creative writing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She loves to read anything she can get her hands on, with a particular fondness for fantasy. However, she typically writes realistic fiction.