Want to improve your writing skills? Pick up a book!

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Reading is my refuge from daily stress, a fun source of entertainment and a way to escape into other worlds. Reading refreshes my mind and refuels me when my word bank feels depleted.

If you’re struggling to write, it’s helpful to review what you’ve been reading (if anything at all).  I firmly believe that what you read reflects how well you’ll write, just like how good athletic technique can make a difference between running faster and farther.

When I want to practice literary techniques, I read novels fitting that style. When I’m focused on copywriting or web content writing, I hunt down high-quality examples and study the author’s techniques. There’s no such thing as too much reading, so read widely and often–you’ll soon find yourself naturally absorbing new vocabulary, writing tricks, and formatting methods.

I also enjoy reading works outside of my typical style because it permits me the chance to experiment within my niche. Since, for example, I’m not one to add heavy dialogue to my literary works, I will read masters of dialogue-driven novels so I can understand how it’s properly done.

One hint: Try not falling into the “reading only what’s on the Internet” trap. While the Internet can be an excellent source for well-written material, it’s best to step away from blogs (yes, even mine), news articles, and other online media, since it’s not always of the best quality. It can also be distracting. Plus, ‘net writers often pick up or perpetuate unfortunate grammar habits that don’t translate well to professional writing, so always read online articles with a critical eye.

Don’t have time to read? Try picking up a collection of short stories or essays. Most can be consumed in one sitting and offer interesting perspectives on a variety of topics. Audiobooks are another option that can sharpen your writing skills while you’re doing other things.

Reading doesn’t have to be a chore, but it should be a part of any budding writer’s toolkit. And, if you’re wondering what I’m reading right now, it’s a collection of Shirley Jackson’s Dark Tales. Nothing like some Gothic horror on a snow day in Spring!

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