If you're like me then your time is very valuable and very limited.
Even without writing we're pulled in a million different directions between school, work, friends, and family. We have to fight to carve out our writing time and we have to fight even harder to become better writers.
Because of this harsh reality, I work to find the most efficient strategies to become a better writer and share those strategies with you. Over the next few weeks I'm going to introduce you guys to some of the best methods you can use to become better (and more consistent!) writers.
Today we're going to start with one of the easiest strategies: reading
Why you should be reading
One of the best ways to learn is to learn from the best. No matter what type of writing you do or what type of stories you write, there are endless books for you to learn from.
Want to learn how to write a page turner? Read The Hunger Games and Gone Girl. Want to learn how to write epic fantasies? Read Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Want to learn how write a swoon-worthy romance? Read Nicholas Sparks!
The biggest mistake writers make is thinking they only need to focus on writing. If you don't put an equal focus on improving your writing you won't be satisfied with what you actually write!
I made this mistake when writing and revising my debut novel. I thought all I needed to do was write my book and edit my book (and then edit and edit and edit again).
I remember when I finally thought I was done. I told myself I would take a little editing vacation to gain perspective and I would fill that time with reading the book that happened to be the #1 New York Times Best Seller at the time. After reading the first page of that book I said, "Dammit."
Because my book was good, but just from reading the first page of another book I knew I could make my book better.
That's why you should be reading. Every time you read a book you're guaranteed to learn 1 (if not 15) new ways to make your book better. Any book you pick up wasn't just written by that author - there was likely a literary agent, an editor, and a publisher who took their valuable years of experience and helped turn a good book into an awesome book.
And guess what? You can benefit from that team! You can read these books and figure out why they're so awesome, then use those same techniques to make your book awesome.
You don't have to devour an entire library or cut anything drastic out of your life. Just commit to reading one new book a month (that's about 1 chapter or 7-10 pages a day) and get excited to learn some awesome stuff.
(Wondering what books you should be reading? Start with the best!
Click here to see to see the finalist and winners of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards, the only major book awards decided by readers. If you look through the finalists and winner in your target genre, you’ll see 20 books your future readers loved last year. Commit to reading 5 of them!)
Why you want to be reading
Alright now you know why you should be reading, but here's why you want to be reading.
First of all, reading is fun! Because you're a writer, I know you feel the same way! We write our stories because we can't wait for the day a reader gets to live in them. We create because what we create is an awesome experience!
How long has it been since you read a book just for fun? Not because it was assigned at school or your book club made you - something you thought sounded cool that you wanted to read?
The answer is probably way too long.
The other reason you want to be reading is because it's one of the most fun ways to learn a lot of valuable information about the craft of writing.
There are a bunch of resources out there for you to become a better writer. This site is one of them, my online writing masterclasses are another. You can attend webinars, writers conferences, and more, but sometimes those things can be inconvenient or too expensive.
I love improving my writing from the comfort of my bed, it's a big reason I created self-study, online writing classes to give other writers the same luxury. Reading books is another one of those wonderful opportunities that helps make you a better writer while you're in your pajamas.
Our writing time is valuable, so we owe it to ourselves to make the most of every awesome and convenient writing opportunity out there.
So what are you waiting for? Get started now!
Comment below and let me know what 5 books you're going to read over the next 5 months!