When Reading is Writing

Living as a Writer Series

I touched on this in my post, When not Writing is Writing but I wanted to expand on how reading is crucial to writing.

The often repeated advice that you must read if you wish to write is not wrong. At its most basic level, authors need to read to keep up with their genre. What’s been written before and what’s being written now. Reading widely outside our genre also feeds the creativity engine.

Reading for the fun of it

We became writers because we love books and reading. It’s a pleasant experience. Science supports this. Recent studies have shown how reading changes our brain activity. This article highlights the biggest ones. For writers these three have particular importance:

  • Increased brain connectivity helps us make connections. Seeing possible connections in our own work is critical.
  • Increased empathy helps us create empathetic characters. When we experience the effect, we can study it and learn how it works.
  • Expanding our memory capacity allows us to keep more at our recall.

Time for reading is part of the job

I’ve heard working writers recently lamenting how they’ve been so busy they’ve neglected reading—and they felt it. It’s easy to push reading down the list of priorities of paying work, family, and sleep. But just like we need to take time to improve our craft, reading needs to be a regular practice. In fact, reading improves our craft even if we aren’t reading a book on writing. Besides, reading is fun.

What are you reading?