#IWSG How Does Reading Affect Writing?

Writing can be lonely and disheartening, and I’m thankful for our monthly support group to lift up writers everywhere. Alex Cavanaugh started the group and has a great admin team to keep it going.

Thank you to these intrepid co-hosts:


This month’s question:
It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?


I’ve only heard about how much reading can help writing, and I’ve experienced those benefits myself, so I disagree with the notion that reading may interfere with originality in writing. Our imaginations are infinite–even if we read an idea that inspires our own work, we will produce a much different take on the story than any other writer.

It is true that particular genres sometimes flood the market (like paranormal romance around the time of my debut novel in 2010), but this phenomenon is probably more about following trends than about too much reading.

How has voracious reading made your writing better? Here’s how it has helped me:

1) Familiarity with the genre helps me improve my story’s structure (including pacing, voice, length, characterization). 

2) Reading increases my vocabulary and clarity. Occasionally, I jot down words or phrases that resonate with me, like in the murder mystery Defending Jacob that I just finished reading. The author described a TV news van barnacled with satellite dishes and antennae–a cool description, I thought. 

3) Reading absolutely stimulates my writing! When I read an amazing book, I can’t wait to get back to my manuscript and try to create a teensy bit of magic myself.

12 thoughts on “#IWSG How Does Reading Affect Writing?”

  1. I think reading has made my writing better when it comes to finding my own voice. Over the years, I've read many genres, but there are certain ones I keep coming back to. They are therefore the ones I prefer to write in. Without reading, I may never have known that otherwise.

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  2. Hi, I so agree and especially with this statement: Our imaginations are infinite–even if we read an idea that inspires our own work, we will produce a much different take on the story than any other writer.That is my opinion also. I enjoyed reading this. Shalom aleichem,Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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  3. Amen to everything you said. Although I admit sometimes when I read something I really love I start thinking \”wow this is so good I could never write like this\” so I guess that is the one problem with reading for me.

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