As a writer, one of the essential pieces of your job is to read. By continuously reading and taking in new information, you can use what you read to improve your writing style. When you see something that you like in someone else’s writing, you can borrow that and implement it in your own.
As you read work by other authors, you will often see things that come up again and again. They use the same word or phrase in a particular setting or they like to use flowery metaphors. These things are all fine, depending on the type of writing you (or the author) is doing.
What can be useful for you as a writer is being able to spot these tendencies in other’s writing and then use that experience to spot your own tendencies. Maybe you always tend to switch tenses as you write. Knowing that as you write can help you spot those errors, and save you time from having to edit them out later on in your writing process.
Finding Your Voice
I wrote about this a few months back but it’s worth mentioning again here. It’s especially important to read lots of books if you are having trouble finding your voice. Go to your local library and browse through 3-4 different sections. Pick out some books in a genre that you have NEVER read before! Scary thought? Of course it is. But facing that fear is part of what is holding you back right now.
Get out of your comfort zone and look at what authors sound like in their writing. Take some time to actually read a few passages out loud so you can hear how the words sound. You may find something you want to borrow for your own writing. You may also find some things that you absolutely hate…which brings me to my last point.
Finding Out What NOT To Do
Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important than knowing what you should do. Your friend gave you directions to his house and can’t remember the exact street to turn on, but you do remember that he specifically said not to turn until after you cross the railroad tracks. That certainly helps when you’re trying to find the right street.
In your reading, there will come a time when you come across a passage or a chapter and say to yourself, “why would anyone write like this?” Take note of that because that it your inner editor telling you how not to write.
As writers we sometimes get bogged down in the writing itself. However, it is important to be able to step back and “research” by reading a good book.
Let me know what you think. Do you have a great book that you’ve read recently that has helped your writing in some way? Leave a note in the comment section.
Jonathan Ytreberg is the owner of Best Word Forward, committed to providing the best resume advice and services to clients around the globe.