This topic comes up in writing groups often enough that it puzzles me. I’m sure there are questions that spring to mind, but I want to focus on the pros of how reading helps you be a better writer.
Exposes us to Different Writing Styles
Creating an author’s voice/writing style is something that natural evolves, but it helps to let your mind be exposed to a wide range of styles to help develop your own.
Exposes us to Different Emotional Responses
No two people experience an event in the same way. By reading other’s works, we see the world through their emotions, experiences, expectations, giving us greater empathy to help give all of our character depth and dimension.
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book or listened to a song that seemed to resonate through you? Good works inspire our imaginations to greater heights.
Exposes us to Writing that is better/worse than ours
Better writing teaches us things that work. Worse writing teaches us things that we personally want to avoid doing to our readers. It helps influence our author voice.
Exposes us to Diversity
While this could be cultural differences, it exposes us to racial, ethnical, immoral, sciences, beliefs, stereotypes, and various ways of communication. This goes toward the well rounded characters but also can influence the issues we decide to target and face in our works.
Exposes us to Tropes
Maybe you write to curb the little mind gremlin, but more than not, you want readers. By reading, we learn the popular tropes that draw readers in, we learn of other tropes from other genres that we can incorporate into our stories, and we learn about the works that are our competition and our network.
Exposes us to Unconscious Learning
Stories follow one of a few different journeys. Hero’s Journey. 3 Act. 5 Act. But the best way to learn the acts and understand the beats that accompany the various journeys is through reading. You become part of the story, and unconsciously you learn pacing. It’s a kin to knowing when approximately x amount of time have passed for cooking or doing laundry without having to set timers. This approximate learning helps your stories have a natural rhythm.
Exposes us to Things That Work
Writings by others exposes us to things that work, and like a detective, we can tear it apart to the most basic components and gain a better understanding of why it works for readers as we examine it.
- It strengthens your brain.
- It helps with blood flow and fatigue by encouraging more blood flow without taxing the mind.
- It lets you gain new knowledge that you might not be aware that you need to know/consider
- It helps you incorporate the knowledge in realistic manner instead of info dumping
- It provides you with wider vocabulary for your own works
- It makes you understand the language better