The importance of reading widely

The importance of reading widely

By Dr Vanessa Harbour

Read, read and then read a bit more. As writers one of the most important things we can do is read. This is for a variety of reasons:

1. Read to find out what you like.

2. And conversely read to find out what you don’t like.

3. Read outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Read in the genre in which you intend to write, but also read beyond it. It might just surprise you. It might also encourage you to write a different story.

4. Read the classics for both adult and children. It will give you a good grounding and understanding of what is possible.

5. Read so you can explore how others craft their work. It is important to understand that writing is a craft,
one that can be honed.

6. When writing for children you need to read in and around the age group you plan to write for. You need to understand your audience and what is age appropriate.

7. It is good to keep an eye on and read what is being successful and winning prizes, but don’t be
driven by it.

8. But it is not just prose, read poetry, watch films, listen to music and explore painting. All of which can be a source of inspiration and help you improve your writing.

Some people say that they can’t read when they are writing as they are concerned it will influence their
writing. It might do to a certain extent, but don’t worry about it. It is important to understand that everything
you have ever read or watched will have an impact in some shape or form on your writing. Don’t be afraid
of this. Just remember reading is a vital part of the writing process and you will become a better writer by
expanding what you read and your cultural engagement.

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