You may be wondering why a blog post on writing tips has the heading of ‘Read widely’. Where are the tips about character, setting, theme? Don’t worry. They’ll show up here sooner or later.
However, before exploring all of those technical aspects of the writing craft, let me tell you a little secret. Great writers read widely!
5 reasons great writers read widely:
1. Reading ignites the imagination
Reading enables us to be stranded on a deserted island, fight evil creatures with magical powers, fly a futuristic rocket in outer space or build a pyramid in Ancient Egypt. We can meet characters and creatures and consider the magic of ‘what if…’. Our imagination is ignited and we can go anywhere, anytime with anyone, and become part of a world beyond our own.Great writers ignite their imaginations through reading.
2. Reading celebrates the wonder of words
Reading widely presents us with new words and phrases which are stored in a large filing cabinet in our brain. We see the impact of the right word in the right place, and how writers use a broad vocabulary to paint a specific picture. Great writers celebrate the wonder of words.
3. Reading develops your writing style
Reading showcases a wide variety of writing styles and techniques. When we read as a writer, we can uncover authors’ secrets in creating characters, building tension and producing a masterful page-turner of a book. We can begin to develop our own, individual writing style, capturing our own ideas in a unique voice. Great writers develop their distinctive writing style by reading widely.
4. Reading increases our understanding of the world.
Whether it be fiction, non-fiction, biographies or specific genres, reading provides a glimpse into a myriad of people and places, periods in history, the world as it is now and as it might become. Our interest is piqued, and we want to learn more. That curiosity can spill into our writing, providing depth and richness. Great writers read widely to understand deeply.
5. Reading builds empathy.
When we read widely, we experience the lives of others first-hand – their backgrounds cultures, their fears, their joys, their perspectives – which often differ greatly from our own. Through the power of story, we develop empathy and insight which are essential in creating authentic, multidimensional and believable and characters. Great writers build empathy through reading widely.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg about why great writers read widely. Can you think of any important ones that I’ve missed? Please comment below.
In the meantime – Happy Reading!