Reading opens us up to new ideas, research, ways of thinking and people we’ve never met. Whether you read articles about politics, insightful blogs, poetry or business books, it boosts your knowledge, analytical thinking, creativity and confidence. It helps hone personal beliefs, ideas, philosophies and inspires us to engage more fully in our work. Reading provides us with infinite benefits, including helping us write better.
By reading, we develop a “mental template” for any writing task that may come our way. Reading gives us examples of highly successful writing that achieves all its goals, whether its to motivate, inform or express an artistic vision. What we read sets our personal standard for good writing, so it’s vital to read as much as you can.
Reading more isn’t difficult — delving into a great book is fun and relaxing. Enjoy what you read and learn as much as possible by:
1. Reading more genres every day: If you only read newspapers, you may find your writing style becoming a bit impersonal. If you only read Shakespeare, your writing may become more dramatic. Every author you read will teach you something, so aim to be well-rounded. Try to read at least three different genres every day. For example, a newspaper article, a chapter from a novel and a manual, or a blog entry, a favorite short story and a chapter of a business book.
2. Always looking up new words and concepts: You may not need to do this very often, but when you come across a word or concept you aren’t familiar with, look it up quickly to learn as much as you can from your reading.
3. Reading the “masters:” If you are interested in a specific field, make sure to read what the experts have to say. This is the best way to challenge yourself to think sharper and write better. Reading the masters of any given field may take an entire lifetime, but you’ll improve yourself by getting to even just a few.
4. Keeping a log of what you read: Tracking your reading reminds you of all that you’ve read, authors you enjoyed and inspires you to read more. LinkedIn’s Amazon reading list application is a great tool for logging the books you’ve read and your thoughts about them.
5. Keeping reading fun: Reading should be an enjoyable part of your day — something that you look forward to. The best way to ensure this is to read something that really pique your interest. Rely on friends, colleagues or expert reviewers’ opinions for your next read. When you find that an article or book is becoming a chore, set it down for a while, read something else and, if you want, go back to it again. If you can’t find anything that you like, re-read a favorite novel or short story to re-ignite your love for reading.
How does your writing improve when you read more? What are your strategies for reading more?