Five Reasons To Write What You Are Reading

Aside from writing itself, I believe reading is the single most important element in a healthy writing life.

As Natalie Goldberg pointed out:

If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.

You should be reading the type of stories we want to write. Why? Here are five reasons.

1. They Make You Envious

If you’re not reading stories that make you drool with envy over the author’s ability to craft fascinating characters and string together beautiful word pearls, you’re not setting the motivational bar high enough.

Read enough authors who make you think, Oh, I could never write like this, and you may one day surprise yourself by writing like them.

2. They Show You How It’s Done

You’ll find no better place to learn that at the feet of the masters. When you read a story you wish you’d written, take note of the techniques that worked and the elements you particularly loved. Then put those components to work in your own writing.

3. They Convince You of the Worth of Writing

Sometimes it can be easy to doubt the worth of writing, particularly after you’ve logged a long writing session in which nothing went right. When you find yourself asking “What’s the point?”, dig out a good book.

After closing that back cover, you’ll probably have remembered why crafting stories are worth the struggle.

4. They Remind You How Your Dream Started in the First Place

As Susan Sontag points out,

Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.

5. They Teach You to Avoid Clichés

By familiarizing yourself with the salient and common points of your genre, you can learn which elements have been overdone. It’s a mistake to believe reading widely in your genre will sap your originality by causing you to subconsciously copy other authors.

The truth is just the opposite. Read widely, so you know what’s original and what isn’t.


A writer who doesn’t read is like a race car that avoids pit stops. You can’t keep racing forever without stopping to refuel. Just as you set aside a daily time to write, make sure you’re also setting aside time to read. When you read the type of stories you write, you’re doing legitimately important research, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

What’s the last book you read that inspired you as a writer?

Post your comments and answers below. If you think someone has an interesting point of view and answer, please invite them or share this post with them.

#DWTSmith #amreading

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10 thoughts on “Five Reasons To Write What You Are Reading

  1. Great post, thanks, I like to read a variety of books, preferably not in the genre I’m writing hmm though I’ve only just finished my first novel so I’m open to trying out your suggestions for the next one 🙂

    • Thank you. That’s still a great idea to read a variety of genres to find your narrative voice but I feel once you have a grasp at that, the genre you write in should be the one you read to strengthen your voice. What do you think?

      • I find I need both – I don’t really like the genre box and I actually think any good book (sometimes even not so good books) can teach you things for your story!

      • I definitely agree. I think it also depends on the writer and what information they want to take on board from other authors and apply it to their writing 😃