How to become a better writer? Well, the old adage is that if you want to write well, you should read a lot. But can reading really help us write better? Well, it turns out that it can! Here are 5 ways that reading can help you become a better writer!

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~ Stephen King

1. Reading makes you smarter

Did you know that books are a gym for your brain? A study done at Emory University using fMRI found that the brain maintains heightened activity for as much as five days after reading a book. Increased connectivity between the two hemispheres of the brain, one of the ways that intelligence and comprehension are measured, is stimulated and developed by reading. So reading will literally make you smarter. Well, that’s got to be good for figuring out those machiavellian plots and dastardly villains!

2. Reading improves our use of language and vocabulary

There’s a significant correlation between verbal skills and the number of books you’ve read throughout your life. Books often use words or expressions that most people don’t use on a daily basis—which means that if all words in your vocabulary come from real-life conversations, it will be more limited! Now, there’s nothing wrong with not having a literary language in real life. After all, the main goal of any language is to communicate. However, as a writer, you need a larger vocabulary than that. Writing different voices for different characters, for example, will require you to learn to speak in different ways.

3. Reading inspires creativity and allows us to see the world from another point of view

And that’s something you should always be aiming for! There’s nothing less interesting than a book where all characters have the same opinions. If you want to write compelling characters with different points of view, you’ll need to be able to understand them (even if you don’t share them). So, when you’re reading, pay extra attention to those characters that have opposing opinions and try to figure out how the author managed to make them interesting. And, of course, this might also give you ideas for your own stories!

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4. Reading different genres can get us out of a rut

Tropes aren’t inherently bad, but they can make you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. And, you guessed it, reading more is the solution for this! Even though many tropes can be found in many different genres, each genre has its own favorite tropes. For example, the chosen one and the wise old mentor are typical fantasy tropes. So, if you’re a fantasy writer and you feel like you don’t know how to keep going, read something that has nothing to do with fantasy! It will be like a breath of fresh air, both for you and your story. Remember that reading is like nutrition: if all you consume is the same monotonous diet, you’re sure to feel run down!

5. Reading is good for mental health – and a healthy creator is a happy creator!

Oh, and it also slows down mental aging… which means you can write even more! And all that exposure to creative language and mental imagery keeps the brain active, which is great for long-term cognitive function. Feeling stressed, tired, or generally down can create writer’s block—and we don’t like that! In fact, if you are feeling blocked, reading might help break you through the block. In any case, having a daily writing routine is great, but having a reading routine will take your writing to the next level!

Do you have a habit of reading? Check out the novels and short stories written by our community using Manuscripts! Many of them are free and they are sure to give you inspiration and ideas!

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