Rule 3. Read. A lot. Of anything.

Why this even needs to be said is a mystery. You want to be a writer. You want others to read what you’ve written. Yet you don’t feel the need to read anything others have written?

Good luck with your career as a wannabe.

Every professional author will tell you the importance of reading, especially in your selected genre. Odds are you already do. After all, why not write what you love, right? The key to this advice, however, isn’t only to read for your personal enjoyment, but to learn from what you’re reading. Pay attention to style, to structure, character development, and most importantly to plot. That last thing you want to do is write an entire novel based on robots that have certain rules encoded in them so they can’t hurt humans, and then read I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

Still, in these modern times, finding the time…or the desire to read can be difficult. Writers with day jobs and family responsibilities who can scrape together 15-30 minutes of free time usually try to fill it with, well, writing…if they have the energy to move at all. Of course there are opportunities where you can pick up a book and read, they just require a bit of sacrifice. Instead of chatting with your friends during lunch, read. Instead of streaming movies on your tablet while taking public transit, read. If you’re a commuter, audio books are a great way to catch up on books. When baby goes down for that afternoon nap…uh, well, okay, do whatever you want.

There is more to read than just your chosen genre. Read anything and everything that catches your fancy. If it doesn’t catch your fancy, move on. Read all forms of fiction, non-fiction, magazines, Twitter, the back of a cereal box, whatever. It’s all information, educational, and food for your creativity. How many people have read a certain science article about prehistoric insects trapped in amber and thought, hmm cool?

Michael Crichton read that same article and thought, hmm, dinosaurs.




Writing is a skill with a constant learning curve. Think of reading as a pleasant form of on-the-job training.


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