How Much Should You Read

How Much Should Writers Read?

By on April 10, 2014 . Category Column

“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

— Erasmus


If you want to write, you have to read.  If you read, you will improve your writing.

The equation seems pretty simple, and we’ve already discussed what you should be reading, but…how much reading are we talking here.

Let’s put it this way:  How much reading can you stand to do?  How many hours can you devote to reading each week?

OK, now double that number.

That’s at least how much reading you should be doing.

And now that I’ve said that, I’ll go ahead and confess that I almost never live up to that standard of reading.  It’s tough.  We get busy.  We wonder if it’s better to read someone else’s book or write our own (sometimes, you have fifteen minutes of quiet and…well…at the end of the day I want to work on my novel).

And I’m not saying working on our own books isn’t a worthy cause—it is, and I’m the first person to say “YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE WRITING.”

But sometimes, we have to learn from others.

We learn a lot from reading—be it from reading something amazing that inspires us…or something terrible that shows us exactly what not to do (like a certain sparkly young adult series that shall remain nameless).

So get the Kindle and Nook apps on your phone (I know you already have the Widbook app, of course).  Support indie authors, read the classics, read stories from friends who need critique partners (who you already have thanks to my brilliant advice), read anything you can.

And read it like a reader—consciously, decisively, with a critical (but understanding) eye and really analyze what’s going on, what you like and dislike, what strikes a nerve and what doesn’t have an impact.

Every time you’re inspired, awed, moved, or overwhelmed by the power of a book…that’s an opportunity for you to soak up some brilliance.

Every time you think, “The author should have…” or “I don’t like how they…” that’s an opportunity for you to do it better.

And that is how you get better.


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