Reading: an essential tool for writing


People aren’t born writers. It takes a lot of practice and mental exercise to become accomplished in the art. Universities are full of degrees on improving writing skills ranging from essay writing to professional writing and editing, and Libraries and community colleges offer smaller workshops for the hobbyists. One of the simplest ways of learning the art of writing, however, is through reading the published works of others.

“There you can bury your head in books which expose you to new ideas and experiences, and sample the styles and idiosyncrasies of a host of writers from around the world,” states Irina Dunn, author of The Writer’s Guide. “In order to discover the practices of other authors, you have to read consciously and carefully, noting the use of language, the construction of sentences, the creation of character and plot, the author’s manipulation of voice, the selection of particular words, the syntax, word order and so on.”

Research is another integral part of developing your writing skills, even if your writing is based in a fictional world. A novelist’s work is “more compelling if they get the details right,” states Dunn. Most writers – whether they be writers of fiction or non-fiction, require access to an extensive reference collection, which is where Libraries come in. Libraries are a valuable tool, adept in maintaining your literary arsenal.

Good research means making the time to take good notes as well as documenting your source materials for future reference. Libraries also have access to subscriptions to external databases such as Academic Search databases and to name a couple, and Library staff are always happy and willing to assist you on your reference enquiries.

So first step in starting your writing journey: stock up on those reading materials!

Happy writing.



Question for the readers: In view of staying true to your own writer’s voice, when it comes to reading other’s work, what can you do to not find yourself discouraged by the talent of more advanced writers?


Source: The Writer’s Guide by Irina Dunn.


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