1. Great Readers Grow into Great Writers

TOP TIP NUMBER ONE: GREAT READERS GROW INTO GREAT WRITERS

Have you ever wondered how your favourite children’s authors write such amazing stories? Did you wonder if they went to a special school for writers and studied for years? Did you think perhaps that they were they just born that way? Well, you’re wrong! Of course some writers do writing courses; of course some writers are just born with a natural talent. But not all of them, and not even most of them!

The one thing that all writers have in common is….when they were kids they read and read and read….lots and lots of books! If you take a look at my Amazing Authors Page you’ll find that every single author was an avid reader as a child!

Many of you will have been to one of my writing workshops, and you’ll know how important I think it is for kids to read lots of books – not just for budding writers, but for everyone who wants a happy, healthy and wealthy life. But here’s why reading is VITALLY important IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A WRITER:

  1. Reading wires the brain for FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION: Can you imagine writing a story when you’re mind is somewhere else or you keep getting interrupted? You can’t, right? Every writer needs the ability to focus and concentrate and think deeply about what they’re doing. The great news is that the very best training for focus, concentration and deep thought is READING BOOKS! The more you read, the better you’ll focus and concentrate – and the better you’ll be able to write!
  2. Reading wires the brain for IMAGINATION: The greatest writers are those with the greatest imagination – we all know that. And you’ll be delighted to know that the very best way to wire your brain for imagination is also …READING BOOKS! It’s simply impossible to read a book without visualizing (or making pictures) of what the writer is describing. Or without imagining the sounds, or the feelings that the writer is writing about. In fact, whether you realize it or not, when you are reading a book your imagination is working overtime!
  3. Reading gives you an ENORMOUS VOCABULARY: You know how it is when you read a sentence and you think “WOW…that’s exactly what it feels/looks like!” The best writers are the ones who always use the perfect word or the exact phrase to describe something. And to do that, you need an extensive vocabulary! Most people use about 5,000 words in daily conversation; then there are 5,000 less common words. And then there are the rare words. These are the ones that great writers use. Did you know that there are roughly twice the number of rare words in a children’s book than there are in adult conversation?! See my Wicked Words Page for some of them!
  4. Reading creates EMPATHY : The greatest stories often contain extremes of human experience and emotion. Like tragedies, where the characters experience terrible grief or loss; or adventures where they must face desperate fear or use extraordinary courage; or dramas where they swing from depression to extreme ecstasy! But how does the writer know how that feels? Nine times out of ten, they haven’t been in that exact situation themselves. But they have read…lots and lots of books! Neurological science is increasingly proving that reading creates empathy for other people and how they feel. And you cannot write a great story without it.
  5. Reading gives PERSPECTIVE : We all know how important it is to do special research if you want to write a story set in the past, like Ancient Egypt or WW2, or about a special subject like ballet or mountaineering. But the greatest writers are the ones who also have the best perspective on the world and of people as a whole. They understand history on a deep level, they see how everything interconnects, they know a lot about human nature and why people act the way they do. Their special understanding of life influences everything they write. So how do you develop that kind of perspective? Yes you’re right! You have to READ…AND READ…AND READ…lots and lots of BOOKS!
  6. Reading creates STYLE: Have you ever read a book where the writing flows like a stream, with such beautiful imagery that you feel like you’re floating? Or an adventure where the pace is so fast, the dialogue so real and the sentences so punchy that you hold your breath? Or maybe a mystery where the clues are planted so cleverly that you just have to read the book again immediately you’ve finished?  All those are different writing styles…and as readers we all have our favourites. The greatest writers have a unique style which keeps their readers coming back for more. Your job as a writer is to find YOUR style – and the first step is – you’ve guessed it – to READ AND READ LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS! The more widely you read, the better your understanding of what styles work for you – and what style you’d like to use yourself!

So there you are! SIX great reasons why it’s VITALLY IMPORTANT to READ LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS if you want to become a GREAT WRITER!

Copyright (C) Sarah Brennan; 8 May 2012

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