The secret to being a good writer? Read a lot

Here are my 3 key tips for those who want to write.

  1. Read
  2. Read a lot
  3. Read a lot of different stuff

I’ve always read a lot. There were few books in our house while I was growing up yet somehow I became an avid reader as soon as I could read. I still recall being given my first “reader” to take home when just a tiny tot at school and told to read page 1 by the following week. I read the whole book in 2 days and then wanted to exchange it for another one.

People in my writing classes have often thanked me for giving them permission to read at home and for giving them the gift of re-connecting with novels. Reading for sheer pleasure appears to be a a luxury for many.

I certainly read a lot of novels. I also read marketing books, self-help books, magazines and newspapers. I absorb how training materials are written. I read offline, online and also listen – to the radio, the news, and the way a film dialogue unfolds. But mainly I like the physical, printed format and holding a book in my hand. Libraries are places of wonder.

So, my advice is quite simple. If you want to get in the flow when you write, read a wide variety of materials.

Absorb the sounds, feel the rhythm. Visualise the picture that the words paint for you.

And if you aspire to a certain style, then read material in that style. So, if you want to make people smile maybe read Clive James, Michael Palin or Guy Browning.

Take time out to read, to lose yourself in some inspiring prose or poetry, a page-turning tale or two.

If you want to write, then you will experience a natural lift in at least some areas of your writing.

And you will experience other benefits too as you divert your mind from it’s habitual busy chatter and allow your subconscious some creative space.

Why not choose something to read this week that is way outside of your usual fare?

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