After having worked with authors for almost two years now, there are some patterns we have noticed of things people do right and things people do wrong.
One of the things we see many aspiring writers doing wrong is that they do not read enough. Why should they read? There are two most definite reasons – you could think of more too
- To develop the skills of judging one’s own writing: The basic quality of your writing is something you should be able to judge. While we have seen many independent writers who write very well and are much better than a lot of traditionally published authors, there are some who seem to be living in a world of illusions as far as their own writing is concerned. They just do not see the obvious mediocrity or even glaring problems in their writing. If you read enough, this is something that is less likely to happen. Correctly judging the quality of the writing followed by improvisations is important before you try to make others read it.
- It will be easier to build your audience online if you are well read. In this era of a glut of everything, including books and writings in different other forms, an author needs to be able to market herself. While Internet provides a good medium for even independent authors to start creating a brand, you need to have something interesting to talk about to build an audience for yourself. And it can’t be your own book or your own writing all the time. That would be too limited and self promotion hardly attracts new audience. (Self promotion can be done – carefully – to an audience you already have, but promotion will not build an audience for you). If you read enough, you can talk about other books, other authors in your blog. You could establish yourself as a good reviewer of books. You could provide detailed analysis of characters, plots etc. If this content is original and interesting, you will be able to build the audience who can be expected to buy you book at some point of time. This is particularly true for fiction writers, who would not have much to talk about otherwise. And this idea came from this blog post. Non-fiction writers can of course, write about their field and topic in general.
There is one more reason for which people often suggest writers to read. I, personally, don’t agree to that though. You should not read to get inspired in your writing. A good writing has to be original. Once you start getting “inspired”, you may never realize the extent of your “inspiration”. your output may sound great to you. But any serious reader will rather read the inspiring writer than the inspired one. In fact, if you find that your immediate readings affect your writings too much, it will be a good idea to have a gap between reading something that could influence your writing and your own writing.