I am always astounded at how many times I hear a writer say, “I don’t read. I don’t have the time.” The truth of the matter is that you will make time for what is important and if writing is important to you, reading should be as well. Whether books or articles, fiction or non-fiction, reading is key to better writing (no matter what you write!) and will help build a better life. Here are some reasons why time for reading should be at the top of your list:
Enhance Your Creativity. Reading gives you a new perspective and new ideas. As a reader, you are privy to another person’s thoughts, feelings, opinions and point of view. When you read, you get to have an entire experience in your mind! Reading triggers your imagination and words on a page become the foundation for a world YOU create that only you see and experience. You bring your imagination to finish the creative process the writer has begun. Experience writing from the reader’s perspective and you’ll find new techniques, get your own new ideas, and have a great time in the process. Go ahead, call it research. Creativity research.
Get Inspired! Reading inspires writing, pure and simple. So go out and get inspired with a great book.
Write Better. Reading is instruction. See techniques and get a chance to see (from a reader’s perspective) what works and–sometimes more importantly–what doesn’t.
Develop Clear Communication Skills by not only expanding your writing skills but your vocabulary skills as well. Not just important to writing, communication is vital in this world of computers, internet and social media, and reading will strengthen your abilities to express yourself. Reading will also expand your experience and mind and give you new ideas and viewpoints, so not only your communication will improve, but your content as well.
Improve Your Analytical Skills. Studies have shown that reading improves analytical thinking and enhances problem-solving skills. So go ahead, dive into that mystery and give your brain a workout you will enjoy.
Increase Your Memory and Get Smart! When you read, you expand your knowledge base. An added bonus is that you get an opportunity to exercise your memory as you keep track of what is happening in a story and follow details about the characters and their world. And let’s throw in a side of building focus! This alone is worth spending some time with books and/or articles on a consistent basis.
Reduce Stress. While reading, your “hamster wheel” mind will focus, and the chatter in your head will drop away as you delve into a story. Make sure you read something you want to read—it should be interesting for you, enjoyable and never feel like a chore.
Support the Writing Community. Whether through the library or a book store, support your fellow authors. It’s good writing karma, and I don’t know about you, but I can use all of that I can get.
How to find time to read? Do it in small chunks. Always carry a book with you. Read in line at the grocery story, when waiting for someone, at lunch when no one is around for a chat, and right before bed (if you need a sleeping pill, consider reading yourself into sleep—it’s much healthier) or when exercising at the gym. So unplug yourself and go to the library or local bookstore (support local business!) and pick up a book. You’ll find the rewards of reading well worth the time.
Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com