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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Clarke

How to Read to Improve Your Writing

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Ever met a chef who doesn’t like to eat? Didn’t think so.

You can’t expect to be a great writer if you don’t consume your own product.

Reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing, but passively flipping pages will never get you where you want to be.

Here’s how to read with the intention of improving your writing:

Read what you want to write

This goes for any genre. Want to write plays? Pick up some Beckett. Want to be the next modern novelist? Maybe King could be your muse. Want to be a great copywriter? You’d better be scanning the web pages of your favourite brands to see what they’re doing right. Learning by example is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to hone your own craft, so make sure you’re constantly surrounding yourself with the kind of words you want to write.

Re-read the classics

While you should always be surrounding yourself with a variety of texts, it can be good to re-visit those that are widely recognised as great. To Kill A Mockingbird isn’t a timeless classic for no reason, but the last time you read it was probably in high school, right? Go back and see what all the fuss is about, but this time, with more experienced eyes ready to appreciate what you’re reading.

Go back to school

Not literally, but get in a learning mindset by taking notes and setting homework for yourself. Highlight your favourite passages, circle words you’ve never seen before—or words used in new, interesting ways—and even challenge yourself to write evaluations of each of the texts you’re working with. It can be extremely helpful to dissect what is (and even what is not) working well in any text so that when you sit down to write yours, you have some well spelled-out guidelines.

Try it yourself

They say imitation is the purest form of flattery, but no one ever talks about how good it is as practice. Once you’ve pored over all of the writing your eyes can handle, it’s time to see what you can produce. Practice new styles of writing by imitating what you’ve been reading. It’s fine if these practice sessions never see the light of day again, but it’s important to always try new things and push your own boundaries to see what could be hiding in that big, beautiful brain of yours.

Now get out there, crack open a new book or blog, and get to work! :)

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