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Reading to improve your writing

During the summer, things seem to slow down. The kids are out of school, it’s time for the family vacation, and writing may seem to require a lot more motivation and effort. It’s okay to take a break from writing as long as you’re still exercising your brain.

Reading is one of the best ways (aside from practice, of course) to improve your writing. Every writer has a niche, a genre or a couple of genres that they’re exceptionally good at writing. One of the problems people run into when they start to write is that they haven’t found their genre or their style yet. The best way to find this is to explore.

Try reading different genres, even if you don’t think you’ll like it. You could be dead wrong. That book you got for Christmas that has been collecting dust on your shelf could be the doorway to your niche. There are tons of great books out there, spanning all possible genres.

If you don’t read, you should. There’s really no way to be the great writer you want to be without putting some effort into reading the works of others. Why would anyone read what you write if they find out you’ve never finished reading a book in your life? Becoming an avid reader gives you credibility and material to draw from for your own works.

There is so much to learn from every book, even if it has nothing to do with the actual story. Pay attention to the style, the language, the character development, and the details used to describe things in the book. After you notice something you like, try writing that way in your own stories. You should try channeling several different authors--or combinations of authors--before you give up on your own personal style.

Even with these tips about reading to improve your writing style, it’s important to remember that everything takes time and practice. If you keep writing, your individual style will eventually emerge. You just have to help it grow.

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