About Life, About Writing, Learning the Craft

Don’t Just Read. Read With Purpose

As writers, we’ve all heard this advise many times:

Read.

Read a lot.

Then read some more.

And when you’re done with that, keep reading. 

In the past, I always took this counsel at face value, attributing to logic that yes, to become a better writer, it made sense you had to read a lot.

But the more I took this advice, the more I came to realize that it was an incomplete recommendation.

We can’t simply read for the sake of reading.

A better writer will always elude us if we simply gorge ourselves, because the key of progress isn’t in the quantity, but the quality of what we are reading.

This concept brought me to a recent eureka moment. Reading for the sake of reading isn’t enough. As a writer, and even a reader,  we must come to accept the fact that no matter how much content we consume, we won’t ever have enough time to read everything that has ever been written and is continued to be written.

So we must be selective.

Beautiful writing, the kind that nourishes the soul and makes us sigh with satisfaction is found in a variety of genres and from different sources, both contemporary and classical, ancient and translated, so much so that in the end it becomes a matter of personal taste.

A better writer will always elude us if we simply gorge ourselves, because the key of progress isn’t in the quantity, but the quality of what we are reading. (Tweet this)

Recently, no matter the type of book I’m currently reading, in an attempt to be more purposeful, I’ve opted for carrying a notebook along and jotting down sentences that moved me or I found particularly effective. I get to study them more in depth that way, explore what made them tic or connect with me, in the hopes of applying the same technique to my writing. But that deserves a blogpost of its own, so I digress. 

Reading is such a rewarding experience in and of itself. Discovering worlds, characters, and joining in an adventure can be more than entertaining. But when it comes to reading for the purpose of becoming a better writer (and I would argue in general), reading just to consume doesn’t do the learning process justice. We have to be purposeful, and let good writing, not just any writing, be our teacher.

Reading just to consume doesn’t do the learning process justice. We have to be purposeful, and let good writing, not just any writing, be our teacher. (Tweet this)


Want to collaborate with me? I love to work with fellow writers, spotlight authors, and host writing challenges. I’ve also been known to swap short critiques on occasion. Don’t be shy, reach out to me here.

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