Good Writers Read

I was reading a blog the other day that was written with limited vocabulary, some poor grammar, and an overly-informal voice. It was easy to read, and it flowed like a conversation, so it wasn’t unpleasant. However, there was nothing to grab me.

To be honest, the writing was pretty parochial.

Even though it was “just a blog” (an excuse I often hear to justify poorly-constructed ideas and sentences), it could have been more — so much more.

It could have exceeded its elementary use of language and really wowed the reader. Instead, it was something that you were likely to read and immediately forget. Nothing stuck with the reader, because the writer didn’t spend any time constructing his prose.

I don’t want to be disingenuous here; I’ve said before that there are different styles of writing. Some writing ought to be simple. You shouldn’t write pretentiously or with complicated vocabulary if the audience can’t relate.

There is, of course, something to be said for a writer’s choice of style. Yet, at the end of the day, if your writing is just a bunch of fluff or is overly simplistic, your writer will recognize it, even if she isn’t a an academic or grammatician.  People can recognize bad writing pretty easily.

This brings me to my point: good writers need to read. Great writers need to read a lot and jot down ideas in response to what they read. As a writer, you’ll find yourself hitting plateaus and roadblocks when you aren’t regularly reading. You’ll find that you actually run out of words, if you’re not regularly being challenged through reading new things.

Many people read books to finish them. This is not always necessary. Read books or articles just to read them — to glean new ideas, to learn new words, to fall back in love with language.

Don’t read to necessarily accomplish anything. That is, you don’t need to read to necessarily finish what you’re reading. Just read to read. But don’t neglect this necessary discipline in becoming a better writer. Make reading a habit, a personal passion. Grab hold of anything you can get your hands on.

As a writer, words are your lifeblood. Read anything. Just get started. If you don’t know where to start, begin with my suggested reading resources for writers.

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