How and why reading makes you a stronger writer

It’s not about co-opting another author’s style or ideas. Consuming others’ words and phrases can spark innovative concepts unique to you. Here are tips for finding scintillating texts.

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Many have said the same with different words: If you want to write, you have to read. This is true whether you want to write better at work or at school or at play.

Five years ago, choosing to receive and believe this wisdom, I decided to become a writer who reads. I started investing more time consuming the work of other writers.

Before, I read two or three nonfiction books per year, generally because they were required by a boss or training event. A single book—or even a chapter—took weeks to finish. I occasionally leafed through magazines, mostly to look at the pictures. I skimmed through a lot of social media posts. I barely read the directions on packaged foods.

Now I read 25 to 30 books per year, including novels, memoirs, business wisdom, poetry and other works recommended by my kids, friends, family, clients and colleagues. I consume online articles in reader view to limit visual distractions. I still lose time scrolling social media sites, though I seldom click through. I read whole recipes before cooking.

Making progress

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