As writers and authors, it’s perfectly understandable how we can get caught up in our work. Sometimes it takes over and before you know it you’ve been at it for four hours without a break. Once you’re on a roll it’s hard to stop! But it’s important to find balance in your life. It’s ok to take a break to go to the bathroom and eat a meal. The idea will still be there, I promise! And if you’re too worried it won’t be, write the thought down quick before you walk away. As a sedimentary job, breaks should also include walking around or exercise, and oh yeah we still have families and friends and pets and other responsibilities too. When are we even supposed to find time for reading, the very thing that gave us the idea to be writers in the first place?!
Reading Makes You a Better Writer
Not only is reading an enjoyable pastime, it’s also a very important part of the author job. We want to keep learning, growing, and getting better as writers. If we don’t get out there and explore different styles and genres our work might start to feel like the same thing over and over again because we don’t know how to do anything else. I know for me personally I have been reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and it has had a great effect on my writing. It has taught me what appeals to readers and to use a new style of writing that adults can enjoy as opposed to always writing on a Young Adult level. This broadened my horizons as an author and opened the door for me to write in new genres that I could potentially do really well in. If I hadn’t read this series, I might never have realized how much I like Historical Fiction and how to use a new style of writing for an older audience.
Not only do you gather more tools for a broader and better writing style by reading, but you also learn to grasp grammar and book layout better. Just by reading many books I learned that when you have a double space between paragraphs you don’t indent the first sentence. I’ve also found common headers that appeal to me as a reader and have implemented similar designs into my own layouts. And let’s face it, just because we are authors doesn’t mean we know much or anything about grammar. For some of us it comes naturally, but for some it’s a real struggle. By reading as much as you can you will start to pick up on the correct use of words and even learn new words that you can use in your own writing. You will start to understand why those commas are where they are and what the use of a semicolon really is. You don’t need a degree to learn these things. You can learn them just by sitting down with a coffee, a blanket, and a book and reading away the hours.
It Gives You Something to Talk About with Readers
Some of my biggest engagement posts are not the ones where I’m trying to sell my books or are even pictures of my cute cat, but they’re book reviews! I post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Bookbub and my blog. Whenever I finish a book I’ll throw up a review. Usually it’s nothing too in-depth and it’s certainly not a professional review that’s pages long. I try to touch on characters, setting, story, and style and my followers on social media really seem to like this. They like seeing that an author they follow has read the same book they’ve read, or even better you lead them to a great new read they might never have learned about. It’s all part of building an author community on our social media. You don’t want to come off as self-centered or like a salesman. A great way to break up the sales posts is to post other books you enjoy, books on your shelf, bookstacks of the same genre or color or author. Talk about what you like as a reader and your followers will start to see you as a human being instead of the almighty author behind the cover of the book you’re selling.
Authors Supporting Authors
How can you expect others to read your work and be interested in it if you’re not willing to do the same? I feel like it’s just good book karma to keep reading other author’s books in the hopes that someday they might read mine as well. It’s also a great way to make connections with other authors. If you find their email on their website or you follow them on social media you can reach out to them personally and tell them how much you loved their book and that you left reviews. No matter how big the author is, these little messages will make their day! Even if they don’t have time to respond to every single one they get, they saw it and they loved it. And who knows, you might form a connection and someday they will return the favor. You could possibly find a new exchange buddy for ARCs. The possibilities are endless when networking and building your author/reader community.
I don’t know about you but reading what other people can do with writing inspires me. It gives me great story ideas of my own, helps me to develop more realistic characters that readers can relate to, and even just inspires me to write in general. It reminds me that “hey, this person didn’t give up and look what came of it! This is awesome! I can do this!” I truly believe the best way to gather inspiration, no matter what creative profession you’re in, is to indulge in the work of others. You might never have wanted to write a story about Vikings and their life way back when until you read your first Viking fiction book recommended to you by one of those bookstagrammers on instagram you follow. And then bam! You’ve got a new story that seems to just flow from your fingertips like it was heaven sent.
Writing can take over our lives as authors, but we should still always find time to squeeze in some reading too. It keeps us sharp, fresh, and entertained. Why do you think writers should also be readers? Tell me in the comments and as always Happy Reading!