Why Writers Need to Read

Reading is essential to the creative process of writing, and maintaining a healthy selection of creative input is a necessity.

The creative process is much like a factory: ideas go in and writing comes out, and in the middle there is the craft of writing, redrafting, editing and refining. So many people focus on the ideas and the end goal of having a completed novel/story/poem/article, but they forget how factories operate. What goes in is not just the ideas at the beginning, but inspiration throughout.

Public Domain

Public Domain

The amount of times I’ve heard writers say they don’t have time to read is sickening. Yes, they have ideas and they want to write it themselves, but without that constant injection of inspiration during the writing process they will never be able to finish it.

Reading is more than just a distraction for a writer. It is research; it allows the writer to learn what works and what doesn’t. A good book will teach technique and method; a bad one will dissuade from making the same mistakes. That kind of input is essential for any writer; whether the aim is full publication or if writing is just a hobby to dabble in.

Whatever a writer is working on—be it a story, a poem, a novel, an article, anything—reading is a must. Absorb as much as possible from those who are more successful. In the same way that in business it is necessary to study market leaders, so it is in writing. It can be from more than just books, as well: films, TV series, plays, anthologies and collections, magazines, the list can go on. Look at the dialogue, the character development, the story arc, the use of consequence and foreshadowing. Understand why those words appear, that scene, the phrase that stands out. What was the writer attempting? Did it work? How can that be applied?

The worst thing a writer can do is separate themselves from creative inspiration and focus only on their own writing. It is insular and self-absorbed, and will show on the page. Read, watch, listen, absorb, reflect, adapt, include. Let outside influence be a positive.

Originally from Thanet, J A DuMairier enjoys writing and long walks in the country.

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