It’s a safe assumption that as a writer the only thing you must do is write. Well, I’m going to share why I believe that if you want to improve your writing, then you must first learn how to read. To improve your writing, we must do more than just writing more. Yes, that method would work, but it has a limit. Instead, I believe that if we want to improve our writing, we must first learn to improve our influences.
#1 – Improved vocabulary
Writing is a collection of words on a page. To improve your writing is to improve the way in which we use words. Therefore, if you want to improve your writing, you need to expand your knowledge of words.
We are in the war of words. Our words are our weapons, and the page we write them on are our battlefields. You wouldn’t go into actual war unprepared so why would you go into this one without your arsenal. By expanding your vocabulary, you are in turn giving yourself the best chances of success.
How do we expand our arsenal? The answer is simple, reading. By reading work from other authors, we are exposing ourselves to words we have never seen or heard before. This allows us to learn these words, so we can use them in our own work.
#2 – Learning from the best
There are countless best-selling authors in this world, more than there has ever been before. This means our pool of work to learn from is bigger than ever. Utilise this pool and learn from the best. Read their work, take the lessons they learnt and apply them to your own work.
Look at the JK Rowling’s and the Stephen Kings’ of the world. What did they do to get to where they are? You know the methods work so don’t reinvent the wheel, instead mould the wheel to your needs. Stephen King said that he would write 1000 words at a minimum, every day, without fail to ensure he achieved his goals.
When I learnt this lesson from his book ‘On Writing’, I adapted it to my needs; I knew I wouldn’t be able to write 1000 words every day so instead, I said to myself write 500 every day and see what happens. Six months after reading that book, I’m still using that method. Without that book, I wouldn’t have even known about this lesson. I only learned it because I was prepared to learn from the best and apply their lessons to my own work.
#3 – Forming Ideas
A countless number of my articles have come from reading books on different topics. When I wrote ‘We Fucked It Up guys…’ it was a product of reading Bernie Saunders book ‘Our Revolution’. Without that book, I wouldn’t of have the knowledge basis to write that article and in turn wouldn’t have learnt anything.
Reading presents us with the opportunity to improve our writing, not by changing how we write but instead the subject of our writing. What we write about is a product of our thoughts and opinions, but these can be influenced by ideas from other individuals and experiences throughout the world.
It’s not just the subject of writing that reading changes. Reading books changed how I write. For example, after ‘The power of habit’ by Charles Duhigg I learnt about habits and the effect they can have on our efficiency and productivity. The lessons obtained from this book allowed me to change my work ethic to work smarter rather than harder, this leads to me producing more at the same time.
Books offer more than a story. To the open mind, they offer lessons and ideas with the potential to change lives if you let them.
#4 – Refining your voice
We’re all individuals with our own voices. Your voice is dynamic; it has the potential to be influenced and refined. Since I began regularly reading six months ago; my voice has developed from an immature youth’s and to a more refined, mature voice trying to aid people on their journeys throughout the world.
Reading can change the way you see the world. Not literally but metaphorically, I see things differently now than I did six months ago, and this shows in my writing. Back then I was blind to wealth inequality and corporate greed, but now I see it everywhere and, this is a product of reading politician’s autobiographies.
Reading has the potential to change your world, your voice and, your writing. All you must do is give it a chance. And, if you do; you won’t regret it.
Integrating reading into your workflow
Throughout this article, I’ve been saying how reading can improve your writing. Now, I’m going to tell you how to integrate reading into your daily workflow.
Everyone’s day is different some have full-time work, some have part-time work, some freelance and, some work nights. No-one is the same. However, there is one part of the day everyone does share. Sleeping. At some point throughout the day, everyone will go to bed. Here is where you do your reading. Spend thirty minutes every night before going to sleep to read.
By framing the activity this way, it will allow you to keep your schedule the same as normal by not impacting your other commitments. But it will also give you time to read a book and achieve the benefits I’ve mentioned.
If you still want more reading, then another opportunity to read is your commute. If you get public transport to work, this the perfect opportunity to read and improve your writing. I personally do this every weekday on the way to and from my day job. In the last six months alone, I have been able to read 27 books, by using this method.
Reading is the most effective way to improve your writing, and more people need to adopt it. It’s worrying, the number of people that write but won’t read as they don’t have the time. But, by following this simple method, you can read daily and improve your writing in a matter of months.
However, remember this; improving your writing is a lifelong journey, it’s never complete, and your writing can always be improved.
If you have any other tips you want to share with people on how to improve your writing, then be sure to tweet them to me here with #improveyourwriting.
Thank you for reading!
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