Does Reading Help Your Writing?

One of the biggest pieces of writing advice I hear from authors and writers alike is: “Read, read, read.” The more you read, the more your writing will improve.

The reasoning behind this is that you’ll learn from the authors before you and you’ll be able to improve your writing based on the way they write their own books.

But is that really true? Can reading actually help improve your writing?

Does Reading Help Your Writing | Creative Writing | Reading | Books | RachelPoli.com

Reading Craft Books

If you’re reading books based on the writing craft, then yes, you can certainly learn a lot. There are craft books based on getting published, writing the first draft, creating characters, writing in various genres, and so much more.

The information is out there and it’s definitely useful. You can learn a lot when it comes to the writing process and writing in a specific genre as well as sending your work out into the real work.

So, can reading craft books improve your writing? I think so. If you’re learning something new, then it can improve your writing.

Reading In Your Genre

Reading fiction in your genre or nonfiction or poetry can help aid you in your own writing endeavors. You can learn a lot based on certain genres based on the way different authors write in the same genre.

You can see how they do things and get ideas for your own stories. A great piece of advice I’ve heard is “steal other ideas.” Don’t plagiarize, of course, but you can take other people’s ideas and turn them into your own. Use that “what if?” factor and turn their idea into something completely different.

Writing Mechanics

Reading works from other writers and authors can help you understand formatting and structure of writing as well as grammar mechanics. I can admit I’ve learned a thing or two about commas while reading books… though I’m still bad with commas.

My Opinion

So, does reading actually help your writing? My answer is not really.

You can learn a lot, yes, and see how other writers do things, but I don’t think it can necessarily help your own writing grow.

Writing is a form of creativity and uses a lot of imagination power. There is no right way or wrong way to write. We all have our own style of writing, our own ideas, and fictional characters.

We, as writers, can learn how other writers do things and we can try it out. However, in my opinion, the more you practice writing, the more you find your own style and way of getting your story across the page.

So, reading does help your writing, but it doesn’t help your writing.

What’s your opinion on this? Do you think, as a writer, you have to read in order to write better? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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16 thoughts on “Does Reading Help Your Writing?

    • Yeah, that’s well said. So many people say you “have” to read in order to write and while it does help to a certain extent, it’s not a requirement for a writer.

  1. Reading has helped my writing considerably, I’d say, but only since I started paying attention to it. I read a lot of craft books, which are great. Reading fiction then gives me the chance to see how other writers have used those techniques in action (or not). For instance, I pay attention to places where the pacing seems slow, and ask myself why, or to places where I’m impressed with how they got across a great deal of information without it seeming like an info dump, and ask myself how they did it. I think about how they foreshadowed later events, and how they dealt with conflicts and character development. So I find both positive and negative examples, things that work and don’t, and take notes about them, far in excess of what I’d include in the actual review. It also helps to remind me that I can love a book even if I find these problems in it — but also that too many of these problems can really spoil it for me.

    • Yes, exactly. You definitely learn a lot from other authors and you can find your style based on what you learn and styles you want to try and such. The craft books, yeah, they definitely help a lot.

  2. I’ve found it helpful to read as much within the genre as time permits. My genre just now is Cozy Mysteries. Sometimes I’ll read something so wonderful I’ll say, “I can only aspire to someday be this good”. On the other hand, sometimes a book can be so bad, I’ll say “Wow! If a publisher bought this piece of crap, there’s hope for all of us!” (By the way, I just completed Book #8 in my Witch City Mystery series for Kensington!) Yes, the craft books can be a big help, as can the writer’s conferences.

  3. Reading in your genre is supposed to help with genre expectations. Books written (and sold) today don’t sound like books written in the 80s, or 50s. And there are a lot of writers who are trying to sell what they grew up reading–without getting much traction.

    On plagiarism, I’ve heard if you steal from 1 person, it’s plagiarism, if you steal from everyone, it’s RESEARCH.

  4. I think reading totally helps with writing. The more you read, the more ideas you can churn in your mind for your own creativity. I’m adding all kinds of reading in this, from craft books, articles in newspapers (especially true crime stories, they are fascinating to read about and develop as a writer!), as well as non -fiction text books (for researching a time, place, etc) and fiction books. There is a vast amount of information out there that is fuel for our creativity…read away, we can all learn more! 🙂

    • I didn’t even think of newspapers or anything of the sort. I was just thinking of book-books (craft, nonfiction, and fiction), but that’s a really good point!

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