Reading is one of the most recommended brain activities. It comes with a lot of benefits that go way past pure entertainment. As a writer, reading is probably one of your favorite past time activities. It opens the doors to learning from others, explore different styles and enrich your vocabulary.
In fact, reading can be of great aid for writers since it is possible to learn how to write by simply reading. And to be fair, a lot of famous writers say that reading is a powerful tool for every writer. If you start reading with the purpose of becoming a better writer a lot of doors will open for you. You will learn what style of writing you want to stick to, or even better, what style of writing you want to keep away from. Here are our essential tips on how to learn to write by reading!
Take Your Time and Read Closely
When reading for pleasure, we tend to speed up as we go and even miss whole passages. The brain fills in the gap because it was able to determine that the passage was not crucial for the story by simply scanning it. However, when it comes to reading for the purpose of learning how to write, things are a bit different.
If you are reading in order to learn how to write, you need to slow down and take.in.every.word. The thing about words is that they are sort of building blocks. Think of them as Lego bricks if you want. In order to write well, you need to stack your Lego bricks properly. You will have more than one brick with different shape or color to choose from to place on top of the previous one. You can choose whichever one you want, as long as it fits into the entire composition. The more different bricks you have, the more versatility you can bring into your final creation.
The same goes for words. The more words you have in your vocabulary, the more expressive writer you become.
Learn to Write For Different Purposes
Being a writer means that you often need to adapt your writing style to the requirements. While you might be able to do that easily, many writers struggle to change their writing style according to the requirements. It is true that every writer has their own writing style and tone, but modifications are often necessary. Not being able to do those modifications can be a great downfall to your career as a writer.
By reading work from different authors, you will explore different writing styles adopted by authors. Of course, Ernest Hemingway didn’t write in the same way as Edgar Allan Poe, but that doesn’t mean in any case that the writing style of one is generally recognized as better than the other. It is all matter of taste.
Taste can be the biggest obstacle for your career as a writer if you can’t mold your work to deliver satisfaction. In your work life, you will meet different people, and you will work for different clients. You might think that you have just delivered the best piece of writing you have ever done, but the client might disagree and completely dismiss it.
Hey, we’ve all been there, and it’s okay!
Your ability to overcome that and readapt your work to a different writing style is what will establish you as a good writer. By reading different styles of writing, you will train your brain to be able to flick between different writing styles and always deliver what’s required.
It’s Not Only About Books
For you as a writer, reading a good book is probably the go-to place. However, every language is a live matter and it changes over time. In order to keep up with the evolution of the language, you need to read much more than just books. Case studies, news articles, blog posts, even social media posts that you might find completely unamusing – you need to keep up to date with all of them, at least marginally.
Every language is shaped by social influences and technological advancements. If the language hasn’t changed over time, we would still be trying to win the affection of the person we like by saying “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate”. Which to some extent is a shame, considering today’s phrases like “Hey, you’re hot, wanna hook up”.
Chances are, you will not be interested in some of the topic you stumble upon. However, for you as a person who is reading to learn how to write better, the topic should not be the main preoccupation. Focus on novelty words, sentence structures, and information extraction.
Read Even The Bad Stuff
A common trait in people is to criticize things that they don’t even know. You will often hear people saying that a certain book is so bad that they do not even intend to read it. How do they know it is bad when they haven’t read it then?
It is important for you as a writer to read even the bad things. The main reason for this is that you can learn what you shouldn’t or what you wouldn’t want to do as a writer. When reading something you don’t like, try and see how you would do it. Just take a sentence and try to transform it. Play with the sentence structure and the use of synonyms. This is a fun activity that is a great exercise for your brain.
Bottom line, reading something bad can be a great ego booster for yourself. If you are reading only the best books and articles, you might start to feel intimidated. When you read something bad, you can give yourself a pat on the shoulder and say “I know I can do better than this.”
In order to learn how to write by reading you need to take a different approach to grasp the information you are after. Writing is an artistic skill and not all have been gifted with it. If you are one of the lucky ones, you need to make sure you advance your style, vocabulary and ability to write for different purposes. Reading can provide you with all of that – you just need to tell your brain that you are reading to learn how to be a better writer and focus on the essential tips we have given you.