Writing and reading are like peanut butter and jelly. No, I don’t mean they make a delicious combination when spread between two slices of bread… I mean they go hand in hand. I mean that one without the other just isn’t the same for us as writers, and that a life with neither is no life at all.
Let me spin it like this. If I asked you which one you would give up between writing and reading if you were forced to do so, which would you choose? Precisely. It’s a hard choice isn’t it? In fact, it’s so hard that it’s probably a choice you never want to have to make in your life, and so that is why you shall not make it.
You shouldn’t give up either of them for the simple fact that they both compliment each other. Writing makes for better reading and reading makes for better writing – it’s a simple equation.
So based on this equation, you should never ever feel guilty about reading, because not only does it transport you out of this hellhole and into a land filled with mischief and wonder, but it also makes you a better writer all-round, and that, my friends, is the aim here.
How exactly does reading benefit you as a writer? I can hear you asking. Well don’t worry, I’m about to outline a few ways it can be of great assistance.
Your Imagination Will Skyrocket
Of course, one of the main strengths of a writer is their imagination, because without it how would there be any interesting plots at all? Without imagination, the world of fiction would be reduced to a reoccurring nightmare, in the form of the exact same book regurgitated and reformatted over and over again, only with a slightly different written style. It would be boring. It would be torture.
Luckily for us though, us writers, along with the rest of the world’s creatives, are becoming more and more imaginative by the day, and it makes for a seriously interesting world of literature to explore.
Through exploring the big wide bookish world around us, we’ll grow our imaginations even more by borrowing a slice or two from our fellow writers. The imagination is like a muscle – it only grows through stimulus. So stop boring yourself all day every day and set aside an hour or two to read.
Your imagination will thank you for it, and so will future writer you.
Reading Expands Your vocabulary
And as a result, vastly improves your writing in terms of uniqueness and voice.
You may not realise it at the time, but whilst you’re reading, you’re expanding your understanding of the written word with every page you turn. The effects of this are not immediately recognisable, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t taken place.
An example of how this pays off would be when you’re sat during a writing session and are in the middle of a sentence, when a random word appears in your head. A word that you aren’t quite sure of; sometimes you won’t even know what it means. At least not consciously. Upon Googling the word (because what else are you supposed to do?) you find out that it means something really cool and fits your sentence perfectly. Look at you being all sophisticated.
This happens because your mind subconsciously latches onto words and understands their use in a sentence even if it doesn’t fully understand the meaning behind them. It’s crazy how it works, but it’s always a pleasant moment when you realise that you managed to learn a new big and fancy word without even trying.
Give it a try for yourself. Read for at least an hour every day and three months down the line, compare your current work to that of three months ago – I bet you’ll notice a huge difference.
It Frees the Soul
Above all else, it comes down to the simplicity behind your reasoning for doing anything in life: because it is something you love; something that puts a smile on not only your face, but in your heart too – and that’s rare.
If reading is something that you do because you enjoy it, then keep reading for that reason and that reason alone. The rest of the positives that come from reading are just added bonuses and should be appreciated all the same. But if you read simply because you love it, then there should be no shame in that.
There should be no shame in doing anything in life that you love to do. So long as it isn’t something that brings harm or pain to others, then do whatever you please.
Do the things you love. Life is too damn short to do anything other.
(Featured image credit: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/reviews-what-are-you-reading-23-march-2017)
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