Everyone knows writers write, but not everyone realizes how much reading a writer must do. Reading is one of the most important things a writer does. A writer who doesn’t read is like a doctor who performs surgery without ever having been trained to do so.
Reading is what educates you to become a writer. Reading helps you hone your craft, allows you to see what does and what doesn’t work in a book, and empowers your vocabulary.
Honing Your Craft – When it comes to honing your craft, you’ll want to read some craft books. There are so many to choose from, sometimes it can seem overwhelming to know which one you should use. You can narrow down which books you might need by knowing how you write best. Plotters will want a good book on outlining, and every writer will need books that give tips on editing and revising. You might also find a book about writing for your genre helpful. Here a few of my favorite craft books with links to them on Goodreads:
- Story Genius by Lisa Cron : This book is great for both pantsers and planners. It helps you dig deep and determine what your characters really want. I highly recommend this for any writer.
- The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic by Kelly Nickell: I love this book, because it helps with productivity. It breaks everything down into pieces, and gives tips for making each piece stronger, then gives you exercises for practicing those tips.
- Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell: This book has some wonderful tips to help you revise your first or second draft.
- Writing Great Books For Young Adults by Regina Brooks: This is ideal for those writing Young Adult. It gives a lot of genre specific tips as well plenty of general ones.
- Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino: Another thing writers have to think about is social media and everything that comes with it. This book explains how to create an author platform, and how to best use social media.
Knowing What Works – When it comes to knowing what works and what doesn’t, you need to read books in your genre. Look for titles on the bestseller’s list, especially those that are there for several weeks. These are the books that are working for their genre. Look at reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. What do the readers in your genre like? What do they not like? Some things work in certain genres that don’t work as well in others. In YA, writers often use first person. They use fragments to convey what the main character is thinking. They are typically fast paced and don’t include pages of description. These things might not work as well for other genres like romance or literary fiction.
Empowering Your Vocabulary – Everything you read will help you with this, but you have to read a lot! The more you read the more words you encounter thus strengthening your vocab. Playing word games is another great way to get in some vocabulary practice. I love Scrabble and even have an app for it on my phone, but there are plenty of other word games you can play. There are so many word game apps, just try putting in word games and see what comes up. Anytime you have to wait, you can kill time by playing a word game.
If you struggle with fitting in reading time, try making a list. I make a TBR(to-be-read) list for each month. I include mostly genre-specific books, but every so often I add another genre in and I always try to include one craft book on the list. Sometimes I don’t read everything on my list, and sometimes I switch out one book for another, but the important thing is that I have a goal to work toward.
What are some of your favorite craft books? What do you do to make time for reading? Do you have a favorite word game? Let me know in the comments!
I’ve been wanting to start a section on my blog for writing tips, and then I found this: the author toolbox blog hop. It’s a great way to connect with other writers and share tips. It is hosted by Raimey Gallant and more information can be found here.