How To Read Like A Writer
Not all readers are writers. All of the writers I know are readers. Just as it’s impossible to be a writer without practicing one’s craft, it’s also impossible to be a (decent) writer without taking in and processing large samples of writing.
As a writer, I can’t get enough wonderful writing, and I kinda enjoy horrible writing because it inspires me to do better!
Here’s what I do to absorb other writers’ work:
- Mark pages
Page tabs are my best friend. Otherwise I can’t easily return to passages I’ve underlines and notes I’ve made. I don’t use highlighters or pens inside my books, partly because it’s permanent and partly because it’s more distracting when re-reading.
2. Write down favorite passages
Not only does writing by hand help me to remember phrases I appreciate, it also brings those words and talents into me in a different way. If I’ve written the words, hopefully they will mingle with the ones already inside me to create new ideas!
“whenever I read a passage that moves me, I transcribe it in my diary, hoping my fingers might learn what excellence feels like.”
― David Sedaris
3. Read what you want to write
I enjoy fiction a great deal, however I can’t get enough of memoirs. I want to read ones similar to my aspirations, and ones that are totally different. In each one I read, I try to learn how those powerful personal stories translate well to the reader, and in what ways they fall flat.
If you’re not a writer, read what speaks to you. Read as much of it as you can. Hold on to copies of books that you found particularly meaningful, regardless of genre.
If you are a writer, do you have other reading tips? How do you preserve writing that resonates with you in a profound way?