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Improve Your Writing Through Reading

Let me start off by saying some of this will sound ridiculously obvious. The points I’m going to make today aren’t groundbreaking in any way, and may be things you have already learned or realized on your own.

First up, the MEGA obvious:

There are so many resources out there that give you tips to writing a better novel or screenplay or comic book. You can go to your local library, listen to an audiobook , or search through YouTube *wink wink*.

Bonus tip: Check to see if your library has an online lending service like Overdrive. You can check out ebooks for free! That's not sponsored btw, that kind of sounded sponsored. You can also check out Scribd, my new favorite way to binge content. Get 60 days free!

Also, if you have Amazon prime you can read one Kindle Unlimited book for free every month. Why not make it a non-fiction one about the writing craft?

Start off with broad topics and narrow down to the areas that you need improvement on. For example, you can start with a book on plot, and then read an article on subplots if you find your writing lacking in that particular area. Or you can start with a book on developing your characters, and then watch a YouTube video on describing your characters if that’s falling flat in your stories.

The knowledge pit is bottomless. But don’t get discouraged. Don’t set yourself to timelines. As a self-publishing author, it’s difficult for me to stop being so Type A all the time. I want to set deadlines. I want to finish my novel as fast as possible because higher output means higher overall sales (as long as the quality is still there).

Self-publishing is stressful. Don’t create more stress by forcing yourself to learn as much as you can about writing in 30 days before you start your novel. If you rush your learning, you won’t absorb as much, and your own writing will suffer for it.

Take your time and learn at your own pace. Don’t compare yourself to others, because they won’t be writing your story. You will.

Focus on absorbing what you’re reading instead of racing to learn everything.

Want to be a better writer? Read. So many famous authors recommend this, and you’ve probably heard it a thousand times already.

Congratulations me, I am now a member of the Broken Records Society.

But how do you read to write better?

I’m going to break this down, because I think it’s beneficial for a lot of people to hear this. Even if it’s simple!

Most writers grew up reading a lot. Even if you didn’t, and you only started reading a lot when you were 16, you still read for enjoyment. You let yourself get lost in this fictional world and it swept you away.

That type of reading is not really what helps you become a better writer.

Although it does help.

You have to read like a writer to improve your own writing.

This means you have to read critically, but not too critically that you aren’t swept up in the story. Yes, this can ruin your reading experience. Yes, it has ruined my own reading experience with some books.

The trick is learning to balance your inner-writer with your inner-reader. Let your writing mind chill out on the backburner, but make sure it’s still on a burner!

As you’re reading, subconsciously be on the lookout for things that worked well, that piqued your interest, and figure out how the author was able to accomplish this. Don’t let your writing mind take over too much though, because you won’t sink into the stories as much. If you’re not into the story, then you won’t notice those things that work so well.

Let yourself become emotionally attached, but periodically stop and analyze.

The magic trifecta:

Reading Fiction + Reading Non-fiction + Writing = Improvement

It’s impossible to improve your writing without actually writing. This is where writing prompts can come in handy for some.

A lot of novice (and experienced...this is an honesty zone here after all) writers hesitate to do this step, actually writing) because they fear they’ll do a disservice to the grand idea they currently have.

Writing prompts allow you practice without worrying about buggering up your best idea. Table your favorite one for now until you learn more. Or dive right into it and use it as motivation to learn as much as you can along the way.

Separate thought: You will ALWAYS have ideas. Most ideas aren’t born great, they’re developed. Making an idea a great one is a process all on its own, but trust me, you’ll have more ideas in the future you can make great!

My point is that no matter what you write, you *need* to practice all aspects of getting a book ready for publication. That means pre-writing, research, writing, editing, more editing, even more editing until you're sick of your story but really somewhere deep down you still love it. Go through the beta process (have others give you feedback on your story). Polish it as much as you can.

Go through each part of the writing process, even if you know you won’t publish this story, because you learn so much about your strengths and weaknesses by doing so.

Writing is perhaps the most important part of this tripod.

My final tip is to eventually reread or rewatch your favorite content. As you grow, the advice you need will change. Oftentimes we don't absorb helpful advice when we're not mentally ready for it, when we haven't realized we have a problem.

Strengthen each leg of that tripod and your writing will improve.


Let me know if you have any advice on something you've found super helpful in learning to write! I'd love to hear y'alls experience and tips!

Happy Writing!

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