There is nothing new under the sun. And guess what, I am not the first person to have said that. In fact, it was written in Biblical times by King Solomon. So if nothing was new back then, imagine how much more true that is today?
No matter what you write, you are not going to come up with something that has never been said before in some way—unless you are talking about exclusive news, are Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, or
What will make your content great is the unique spin you put on that old concept. When you read, you experience all of the things you want to express.
And once you have experienced them, you are much better equipped to share with others.
9 Quotes from Literary Geniuses that Tell You Why Reading Makes Your Writing Better
Reading makes you a better writer whether you are writing a novel or copy for your latest product. However, do not just take my word for it. I am going to prove my point through copious references to the words that have inspired me all from the mouths of the greatest writers and thinkers. You won’t be able to argue with me, because you have to admit they know what they are talking about. Which means all my reading has already paid off in writing this post alone.
- “Genius is one percent inspiration … “ – Thomas Edison
So what if the other 99% is perspiration. Even Edison recognizes that to really be a genius, you need a little bit of inspiration. That is the purpose of books: to inspire the reader. When it comes to writing, reading a book does not magically make you a wordsmith. It does not have any actual magical powers.
Writing takes a lot of hard work. If you want to be a genius writer, you are going to need to put in that 99% of perspiration that Edison suggests. However, while you are putting in that hard work, do not forget that one percent. Read a book, and be inspired. That is part of the genius formula.
- “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” – William Faulkner
George Deeb wrote an article for Forbes that says mentors are one of the most valuable resources you can get if you are an entrepreneur. Well, if writing is your enterprise, then you have access to some of the greatest mentors throughout time.
Take advantage of this. Tap into the resources of the masters and learn from them. Within the pages of a book, you will find all of the secrets of writing success. What other profession allows you that type of opportunity?
- “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde
Believe it or not, your reading preferences reflect on who you are. What do you enjoy reading? Sci-fi, romance, mystery? There is no right or wrong answer here, but your reading choices do say something about you.
They should also say something about what you write. When you write what you like to read, you know that you are pleasing somebody. And since one of the things reading does is show you that you are not alone in how you feel or act, you know that if you please one person, you are likely to please many.
So read to determine who you are, then write for that person. You will find that many other people want to read the same things as you.
- “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” – G.R.R. Martin
One of the best things about reading is that you get to have an adventurous life even between all of your real-life adventures. As a reader, you get to discover things that non-readers never get to.
Great writers do not just tell you what they want to say, they show you what they want you to feel. They put you in the shoes of their characters so that you are the one fighting the white walkers or becoming the mother of dragons.
How does this translate into great writing? You have to be able to take your readers on an adventure. Whether you are writing the great American novel or you are selling sneakers online, you have to convince the reader that they are part of your story and that they want to continue on with you.
In order to get to a place where your writing transports your readers, you have to have been transported yourself. So reading allows you to travel to other places and have epic adventures, which will help you bring your readers along on all of the thrilling sagas you want write about.
- “The more that you read, the more you will know.” – Dr. Seuss
Reading is educational. When you read, even a novel, you learn. What you learn depends on the book. Maybe you learned about some theorem in a physics book. Maybe you learned about the Civil War in a history book. And maybe you learned about the strength of emotions between the pages of a Romance.
Knowledge is never a bad thing. In fact, it is almost always a good thing. So, educate yourself. You cannot teach others anything unless you first learn it yourself.
- “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke
If you really get into a book, you cannot help but start thinking. Great writing challenges your viewpoints and makes you question everything that you thought you knew.
Once you learn to start thinking for yourself, you stop spewing out facts, and you begin to write real, compelling material. If you do not first learn how to think, then nothing you have to say will have real value to your reader.
Readers do not want to read a list of facts unless they are reading the news. They want you to give them something to really ponder. But to get other people thinking, you first have to learn to think.
Sally Kerrigan, a writer for A List Apart, points out that writing is thinking. When you write well, you are not just creating noise. Read, then, so that you can figure out the signal you want to send to the world.
- “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snickett
Giving sources builds trust. Proving your statements shows you are not just making things up. Reading allows you to find the information that is going to help you prove to your authors you know what you are talking about.
In other words, if people do not believe you, nothing you say matters. So prove to them you are not just throwing up smoke and mirrors.
- “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” – Fran Lebowitz
Reading helps you form concrete ideas. It allows you to see viewpoints you might not ever before have thought of. It helps you connect with people of all cultures, races, religions, and genders.
If you want readers to connect with you, you have to first connect with them. Find out what people are thinking and what makes them who they are. Once you have developed empathy, it will come through in your writing. People will listen because they will see you really get them.
- “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” – Stephen King
Stephen King has created a name for himself not only as a writer, but as a writing coach. Josh Jones, on Open Culture, took away 20 tips on writing that he has gleaned from King’s own writing tutorial books and interviews. Basically, what Stephen King say you should do in order to be a good writer is what you do if you want to be a good writer.
There is no lesson here like educate yourself or learn who you are. The only point, and it is a huge one, is that Stephen King said if you want to be a good writer, you have to make time to read. And that is reason enough to go grab a book right this instant.
Pick Up a Book, and Change Your Writing
There are many reasons to go out right now and pick up a book. Your writing is only one of those reasons. Listen to the words of all the wise writers and thinkers before you. If you want to write successfully, read frequently.
Many great authors did not wake up one morning successful. They worked hard and discovered the path to success through trial and error. So use their trial and error as a map for yourself.
I’ve got to wrap this up now—Stephen King told me to go read something, and I’m going to listen.