I had to write an essay as part of my teaching degree about why it’s important for teachers to be readers. Not just journals or the newspaper, but books, for pleasure. I think a lot about that assignment, and most of it can be applied to authors too.
Ever since I could spell, I read. As most kids do, I started off with one word per page book,moving slowly to one sentence per page; onwards and upwards until I would disappear into my room with a novel and shut off from the world around me. Some of favourite books at the ages of 8-12 were The Chronicles of Narnia (I still have the exact box set pictured above – just in better condition), followed by The Hobbit and Goodnight Mr Tom.
I have always been a bit of a speed reader, sometimes able to read 2-4 books in one week, especially as a child, often reading multiple books at the same time – a habit I’m trying to prevent my children into getting.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is the fact that my sheer love of reading has fostered my writing ability. Reading increases spelling and an author’s vocabulary. There’s nothing worse, as a reader, than seeing repeated words used over and over again in a book.
Also, how can an author ensure they avoid clichés in their chosen genre if they don’t read regularly? Reading the genre they write in isn’t completely necessary,but reading in general prevents certain phrases from being used.
Another benefit to regular reading for leisure, and having friends who read a lot, is keeping on top of which trends are popular with readers. I’m not saying authors should write what they know will sell, but being aware of what kinds of books are released over an over can only help.
So, if you get the dreaded, often thought of as a myth, writer’s block, close your word doc and pick up a book. Then, share that book with your friends and leave that author a review. It’s like a virtual hug to an author.