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?
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.
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.
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.