Read Better to Write Better

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

In every writers group, in every forum, in every book or blog about writing—you’ll find this advice: if you want to write (or write better), read. See, it’s easy for writers to get caught up in the writing process and forget what their readers experience. So for a writer, reading helps you get into the minds of readers—because then you are one. And just that will make your writing stronger.

But there’s a secret to reading that can help you cultivate even better writing.

Ready for it?

You can’t just read more—you have to read better. Consider reading as a pursuit just as important as writing, rather than simply a distraction or hobby.

But what exactly does reading better look like?

First, it doesn’t mean giving up reading just for pleasure. If you take the joy out of reading, it won’t be long before writing isn’t much fun anymore either. But there are some ways to make your reading fun and educational, in a grown up way.

How to Read Better

Approach reading for pleasure as a learning experience

Be curious. Don’t be afraid to take the writing apart into its elements and put it back together. Knowing how and why something works doesn’t have to diminish your enjoyment of it—instead it can give you a deeper appreciation.

Use your reactions as a guide

Be aware of your reactions as you read. Does a certain character strike you the wrong way? A particular scene make you feel a certain way? Why? What specifically makes you feel that way? Be as detailed as you can.

Study how it’s written

Pay attention to how the author crafts the story. Plot, character, theme, mood, tone, point of view, emotional connection, plot devices…these are the tools you know so well as a writer. Watch for them in the book, and note how you respond to them and why.