“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King
It’s a blunt statement, for sure. But Stephen King would know — he’s sold an estimated 300-350 million books.
Just as musicians make time to listen to music, and just as artists look to other art for inspiration, writers must make time to read.
Do you think of reading as a guilty pleasure? I sometimes do, but I’m working on shifting my mindset. Because reading is necessary. Here are six reasons why (though there are plenty more):
It improves brain function. The blood flow that occurs in the brain when you read strengthens connectivity. Over time, your brain will stay in shape as you age, and you’ll reduce the likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
It helps cultivate your theory of mind, which helps you understand that others’ desires, interests, knowledge, and intent are different from your own. In other words — it develops your empathy. This is especially important for writers because you will often be writing for an audience that may not include you.
Reading is an important source of creativity. Having to develop a picture in your mind of what’s being said (as opposed to watching a video) makes you work a little harder and can lead to all kinds of ideas and mental breakthroughs you wouldn’t have otherwise.
It gives you the opportunity to learn from other writers. If you love someone’s style, you might try to emulate it somewhat in your own writing. Conversely, if you don’t like someone’s writing, you can figure out why and then avoid that in your own writing.
Reading improves your vocabulary. When you get tired of using the same words over and over, you’ll have learned more choices to draw from. This will keep you more engaged in your writing… and your readers more interested in reading it.
It’s often the best way to learn about your topic in-depth. Research findings are still generally presented most often in a readable format. And you can ensure your understanding because you’re going at your own pace.
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