The Second Best Way to Become a Better Writer Is…
I hate clickbait titles too.
You click the link, and have to scroll down half the page before finding the answer you’ve been promised.
So I’ll save you the trouble. It’s reading.
Reading more is guaranteed to make you a better writer.
Now that you know, you can close this tab if you want.
But as this piece of advice is about reading as much as possible, it’s probably best you continue below…
It’s not only useful, but essential
This isn’t ‘advice I’m offering that might help’, its more ‘if you don’t take this advice, you will never improve as a writer’.
It’s that important.
The best, most famous writers are all big readers.
Stephen King once said: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Ignore Stephen King at your peril.
It’s Really, Really Easy
Reading is the second best way to become a better writer (the “first best” is coming up, don’t worry).
It’s also the easiest.
The vast majority of people enjoy reading something. It doesn’t have to be a novel – it could be a magazine, a blog post, or even your social media feeds.
But if you want to improve your writing, it’s always going to help to read something relevant to what you’re writing about.
If you’re writing ad copy, then read as much ad copy as you can.
If you’re writing financial advice guides, then change your new tab page to Money Supermarket.
At the same time, reading something detached from your subject area can supplement your learning (and makes it more fun). So, it’s definitely recommended to explore a novel, short story collection, or poetry, alongside your more practical reading.
Five Ways This Thing Improves Your Writing
It expands your vocabulary
The more you read, the more words you discover.
If you come across a word you haven’t heard before, or one you’ve never really known the correct meaning of, look it up.
Every single word is a weapon in a writer’s arsenal.
It helps you remember grammar rules
While all professional writers are expected to know how to write, we all have that one grammar rule that we just can’t get the hang of.
Personally, mines’ apostrophe’s.
By reading, we instinctively learn the dos and don’ts of writing. You’re also allowed to Google the right method every once in a while. Nobody’s watching.
It inspires you
I’ve spoken before about how writing badly, then reading it back, can help you write something better.
But reading something good, that somebody else has wrote, is also a helpful.
I obviously wouldn’t advocate stealing the work of another writer – even if it was just a simple line – but reading can give you all sorts of brainwaves regarding your own writing.
It helps you better understand language
Words can be powerful. But only if they’re used in the right way.
The way you craft a sentence, and use language, can be the difference in how you get your point across.
It is only by reading good writing, that you can understand how language can be used. And if you know that, then you’re in a better position to do it yourself.
It helps you better understand the topic, industry or genre
There’s no better way to get a full understanding of a topic than to read about it.
It’s different to “light researching”, where you scan the internet looking for very specific pieces of information.
Reading allows you to improve your knowledge of a subject – and actually know your stuff, to a degree, before you start writing (which minimises the amount of light research required).
Do it for fun
The great thing about reading is that it helps you subconsciously.
You don’t have to constantly think about what you just learned after reading a page. You’ll see the results naturally when it comes to writing your next piece.
That’s what makes it so easy.
And when the most powerful way to become a better writer is also the easiest, we’d be fools to ignore it.
So, if the second best way to become a better writer is to read. The only thing better is to write.
Don’t worry about it too much.
Write. Publish. Keep going.
Anyway, enough from me. I’ll leave you with this from my favourite fictional wordsmith, Tyrion Lannister:
“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”
– Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones