30 Days of Writing Tips – Day 29 – Read

by Anne Wayman

writer readingReading widely and with attention is one of the best ways to improve your writing skills. I have a writer friend who buys a magazine she’s never read before every month. “I learn new things,” she says, “and I’m exposed to all sorts of different writing styles. It’ s a cheap education.”

I don’t pick up an unfamiliar magazine every month, but I do it fairly often. Sometimes the ideas horizon me because the magazine I choose is so far outside my comfort zone, like a magazine on boxing I once read. Ugh.  But the style was crisp and worth noting.

I’d be less than honest if I told you I study everything I read. I don’t, not by a long shot. And I don’t finish every book I bring home from the library either. And while I do read all sorts of mind candy – mysteries and political thrillers are favorites of mine, I also check out the non-fiction often.


Reading really is part of my writing I think.

How do I find time to read? I don’t’ have television! I know that’s fairly radical, and I do have an iPad and a Netflix account.  And when I travel and start to watch TV in the hotel room I soon discover why I don’t have a TV. But that’s a whole other subject.

How does reading help your writing?

30 Days of Writing Tips Archive

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ahlam June 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I love this one, I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot! I’m a big non-fiction reader but realized I needed a break from reality and have recently been picking up good fiction books. It’s been great. I feel a bit more relaxed, and have been trying to read with a writer’s eye. Great point! :)

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annew June 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

Breaks from reality are a favorite of mine too.

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Diana Dart June 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I’m a sucker for a good story and love to read about flawed characters that stumble through life as I do. Not only does this keep me grounded, but it prompts me to think about why readers read. I want my writing to deliver that thing… whether it’s the mind candy that you mentioned, a particular message or crisp, relevant information, I love learning how to use words to fulfill a need in the reader.

BTW, how do you feel about reading your own particular genre? A must or a danger? Something in between?

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annew June 8, 2011 at 11:33 am

Do you mean should romance writers read romance? I’m a non-fiction writer and I love reading non-fiction… can’t imagine how it would be not to. I don’t always read what I’m trying to write… sometimes… I guess my answer is a ‘helpful’ it depends. What do you think?

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Nina Lewis June 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Sometimes, when I come across a phrase that I particularly like in my reading, I save it in an Excel spreadsheet. Ocassionally, I’ll re-read what I have saved. Do I do anything else with those phrases? No. I just enjoy reading them. But, I hope that I am subconsciously planting those well-turned phrases so that my own great phrases will sprout in my writing . . .

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annew June 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Yes, I’m sure those phrases are informing your writing… good tip.

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Amelia Ramstead June 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Nothing makes me happier than curling up with a book. If I could just be paid to read… well, life would be perfect. I learned to read when I was four, thanks to my grandmother, and when I realized that I could actually create the words that were on the pages, it completely blew my mind. When my grandfather died a few years back we cleaned out his condo. We found a box packed full with little stories I had written for him on the weekends that it was my turn to stay. (Oh, crud, now I’m getting all misty.) Reading and writing are linked, and it’s completely impossible to be a decent writer without being an avid reader. Wish I could get rid of the TV, but I would have an absolute mutiny on my hands!

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annew June 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm

What a sweet story, Amelia… and yes, reading is my passion too.

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Cathy Miller June 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I have often said reading is my #1 form of entertainment. I read in bed every night. I cannot fall asleep without reading (and not because the material is boring :-)). It’s part of my ritual – one I love.

For me, reading and writing is kind of like the chicken and the egg debate – which came first? :-) It opens you to new worlds, new ideas and new ways to express yourself. Love it!

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