So you want to write a book.

Or maybe you want to write some poetry, or even some copy.

You know what you need to do first?

Read.

Read so much that you’ve no idea what happened in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or whatever else it is that people watch these days.

Use every opportunity that you can to read. Take a book with you, either physically or on your phone or Kindle. Read in queues, on the toilet, on public transport. Read as much as you possibly can!

But why?

Why is reading so important for writers of all kinds?

We learn from our predecessors

Most of us were taught to cook by our parents or grandparents. They learnt what works and what doesn’t work for certain dishes.

Some of our family members will be better cooks than others. Those that are the best cooks are the best people to learn from. They’ve made more mistakes; they’ve been taught by people even better than them. They’ve spent years practising their craft.

It was my nan that taught me how to cook. It started off with baking. Every Christmas we’d spend a Saturday baking mince pies, Christmas cake, scones, and any other sweet treats Nan fancied at the time. Every time I bake a cake, I’m reminded of this memory.

It was the time I spent listening, watching, and learning from her that inspired my love of cooking.

Writing is no different.

It’s a lot harder to listen and learn from people we don’t connect with. That’s why students often excel in subjects taught by inspiring teachers, then their grades go down in their stronger subjects if their teacher doesn’t inspire them. (I was one of the teenagers who suffered from this.)

When you read from writers that inspire you, it’s a whole lot easier to take in their words and learn from them. It’s also easier to gorge on those words. And when you gorge on those words, you’ll learn faster, much in the same way that you learn what flavours work together by trying a wider variety of foods.

Courses such as Copy Hour teach you how to write great copy by analysing the copy of successful copywriting from the past. It has some great reviews. If studying the work of our predecessors doesn’t work, why is it so successful?

Whether you write fiction, poetry, nonfiction or all of the above, studying the work of other writers can inspire you.

Whether you write fiction, poetry, nonfiction or all of the above, studying the work of other writers can inspire you. Click To Tweet

But whose work should you study?

Anyone’s. Everyone’s.

The more writing you analyse, the easier you’ll find it.

Eventually you won’t be able to read something without analysing it.

Some areas to consider when analysing fiction:

  • How is the plot structured?
  • What are the subplots? What do they add to the main story?
  • How do the characters change and develop over the course of the story?
  • Is the writing tight, or is it verbose?
  • Are the metaphors and similes used vivid and original?
  • Does the dialogue sound like real speech?

Some areas to consider when analysing poetry:

  • How vivid are the images created?
  • What theme(s) does the poem explore?
  • Why did the poet choose to structure the poem in that particular way? Does the structure influence how you read it or change its meaning?

Some areas to consider when analysing copy:

  • What is the copy trying to sell? Does it make you want to purchase the product?
  • Does it follow a particular copy format?
  • What is the problem it’s trying to solve?
  • Who is the target audience?

These are just a few ideas to get started. You may find some of the questions from fiction also help you with poetry, or the copywriting questions help you with fiction.

That’s what I love about writing—each of the styles overlaps if you look hard enough.

You can find out more about the ways in which the different styles of writing overlaps in my free ebook, Essential Writing Ingredients.

Over to You

Why do you think the best readers make the best writers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!