Saturday, March 10, 2012

Read Like a Writer

I have heard the advice in the past “read to write.” I had absolutely no idea what this meant until I found myself reading like a writer, and I didn’t even know it. I try to read many articles on what makes a writer’s work good and what a writer can do to improve this or that. Recently, I have begun to notice a great pattern. Almost every writer’s advice article that I have read in the past month has mentioned this in some way. Read like a writer. Read in order to be a better writer. Read in order to learn. Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz was interviewed in this month’s Writer’s Digest. One of the bits of advice asked of each author featured in the article Eye on the Prize was “No. 1 Craft Tip.” Diaz stated very simply: Read. A fellow blogger posted an author interview with Sarah Allen at The Writer's Block where she asked the question “If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?” The first answer again: Read.

This got me thinking. If I could write like any author who would it be? I am not saying everyone should imitate another author. That would be missing the point entirely. So much can be gained by reading a great and successful work. Read someone’s work that pulled you in so fully you couldn’t wait to read what would happen next. Suzanne Collins, for instance, with her Hunger Games Trilogy had me turning pages as fast as I could until I could finally reach the end of the story. I feel that Ms. Collins has a masterful way of creating characters that we, as readers, become emotionally attached to. I want to write characters this way!

All of these things have made me realize that every book I am reading is more than just good entertainment. Every book can be a learning tool. When I am stumped over certain issues, I have begun asking myself “How does (insert author’s name here) do this?” How does Suzanne Collins introduce each character? How does J.K. Rowling make me care for Harry Potter? How does Stephen King create his plot? What can I learn from best-selling authors about telling stories? What can I learn from them about…well, everything?

I am going to keep asking myself these questions. I am also going to keep reading and rereading and learning. Reading like a writer is no chore. You just pick up a book and go for it. All of these authors simply can’t be wrong about this.

Keep reading like a writer, and keep writing your heart out!

Photo by: Emily D. Wood
Copyright (c) Emily D. Wood


  1. It's amazing how much we learn from reading. You're totally right that every book is a teaching tool to a writer. Luckily for us, we love to read which makes learning so much more fun. Great post! :)

    1. Thank you! Yes, learning really is a lot of fun for us avid readers. :)