Being an author can be laborious. Our article ‘Get Your Writing Game On’ even compares the writing process to training for the Olympics. This is because you need to sustain habits that can help you reach your writing goals — and one of those habits is reading.
Reading helps you cultivate your voice and equips you with the tools that other writers use. It can also broaden your knowledge pool so that you have more material to work with as you write. If you’re wondering how to read better to become a great writer, here’s what you can do.
Read widely and outside of your comfort zone
As a writer, nothing that you consume will go to waste. In the process of writing, things that you didn’t realize you knew will arise unexpectedly. This is why it’s crucial to build your stock knowledge by reading widely — from the well-known to the niche. Scribd is an e-book and audiobook platform that can help you achieve this. Because it offers a wide range of materials, you can discover something new daily and access reads you won’t find anywhere else. You can also check out other literary websites or news outlets that publish book reviews to find ones that pique your interest.
Read with purpose
Reading is never a passive act, especially when you’re a writer. Ursula K. Le Guin famously said, “The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” This makes reading a creative act. Since you’re constructing the story in your head. When you’re mindful of this, you can become more vigilant about the tools that the authors used at their disposal to help you do this. Think about how the author portrays characters, constructs scenes, and builds worlds in a way that a reader like you can take control of. In doing so, you can integrate reading as a part of the creative process and study it with purpose.
Read secondary sources
Reading secondary sources like reviews, journal articles, and even social media discourse about what you have read is an excellent way to reinforce what you learned. These can help you recognize the historical, political, and cultural context in what you read, give you insight into the author’s writing process, and connect you to a broader reading list by comparing and contrasting them with similar texts. You can then assume an intertextual perspective to what you’re reading and figure out how you can integrate similar approaches into your work. Mix is a great aggregator that can help you find materials from across the web that match your interests and consume all of the secondary sources mentioned above.
While reading with purpose is essential, it’s equally important to read the works that you love, whether it’s new books from the same genre or rereading old favorites. The act of writing itself can be grueling, and in those moments, it’s easy to be drained by literature. When you return to the things you love, you can rediscover the magic in what you’re doing and find wonder in the creation process. It’s also a great way to acquire a style that suits your tastes. This brings your results closer to your vision.
Joyce Carole Oates once said, “Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” By devoting the time to reading better, you develop the empathy, knowledge, and skills to become a more proficient writer.