“There is more treasure in books than in all the loot on Treasure Island…and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” Walt Disney
“If you don’t have time to read, you on’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King
Walt said it more graciously than Stephen, but as writers we all know how important reading is. It’s one of the key tools in our writers kit bag. We read, not just to lounge around and be entertained, b;it to learn—to discover how other writers do what they do as a way of improving our own craft.
With lots to do and limited time, it’s easy to spend our reading time staying “close to home” in our own genres, rather than ranging farther a field. But sometimes getting out of our comfort zone on the reading front can be energizing and enlightening. Here are a few ways to expand our reading range:
Read books on writing: I have a shelf or two of writing guides that I turn to again and again for ideas and guidance. Sometimes we forget about these old friends, but they are always waiting for us. Why not make it a point to dip into one trusted guide every week?
Read articles outside of your personal interests: There’s nothing like reading an engaging story about a topic you have no interest in and seeing how author managed to entice and hook you just through the sheer writing skill.
Read books outside your genre: It’s safe and easy to read inside our genre to see what other authors are doing—how they construct their plot lines and use accepted tropes. But genre jumping as a reader can also be valuable. If you’re writing a fantasy, spending some time reading, say, a mystery, can be instructive. You may learn how to raise more questions in your readers’ minds by planting clues in your story.
Read books on self-help: Even here, we don’t have to limit ourselves to personal growth guides. We can also venture into unfamiliar territory. Reading about entrepreneurship, for example, can help us understand how to navigate the business side of writing.
Writers are readers. So let’s be adventurous as we all write on!