Today, I have spent a great deal of time reading. As a writer, I value reading enormously. Not only do I gain the benefit of having some ‘input’ but I also have the chance to develop my own ideas and learn new information.
Reading is a very important activity for us as writers because it allows us to be mentally stretched. It also give us ‘input’ – fresh ideas, perspectives and approaches that can enhance our writing and our thinking. If you write a lot, you will begin to crave that kind of input as it is easy to feel your own tanks of knowledge draining when you give out so much information.
We never stop learning how to write – the more we do it, the better we get at it. But sometimes we need to be less passive and actively work on improving our writing. If we don’t, we will only develop slowly. Making a conscious effort to learn how other writers communicate effectively will make our reading a more rounded learning experience.
There are two main ways we can improve our writing. The first is to read what others have written and to notice what they do well so we can build it into our own writing. The second is to read what we have written with a critical eye. If we do this, we will be able to identify areas where we can improve, as well as learn to eliminate minor errors.
Reading what other authors have written
Taking the time to read what others have written is important for three main reasons:
- You expand your knowledge of a topic or how you can approach it
- You crystalise your own viewpoint when you read an opinion or approach with which you disagree
- You discover good writing and learn how to emulate it.
Reading what we have written
Being able to read our own work is extremely important. If you resist reading what you have written, you need to challenge yourself to do more of it. It takes discipline, but it is possible to get used to reading your own writing just as it is possible to get used to hearing your own voice or seeing yourself in a photo or video.
There are three benefits to reading your own work:
- You are able to correct errors and reword sentences that do not work.
- You can assess your piece as a whole and check that you have got your point across.
- You can spot writing habits and begin to eliminate the ones that are irritating or sloppy.
Learning to write well takes time, effort and patience. We don’t always have as much time to edit and revise as we would like, which means we need to accept that not everything we put out there will be perfect. As a business owner, we know that productivity is important and that it cannot always be sacrificed to perfection.
One time when we do get the chance to focus more on our writing is when we are publishing a book. Because it is a longer project that will get more exposure we are probably going to do more edits and revisions – unless we decide to leave that job to an editor. Even so, we are still likely to read what we have written with a more critical eye.
Fortunately, once we have done a certain amount of revising, it starts to become easier for us and we get better at it. Gradually, our writing improves because we edit out the unhelpful habits before they hit the page. Once this starts to happen, you truly are learning to write well.
Have confidence in your writing. Even if you do not think you are a good writer, you can improve. Make sure you revise your work and pick up on writing habits you need to eliminate. Read more and make a conscious effort to notice phrasing and words you can use in your own work.
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