reading is good for writers two drops of ink

Benefits Of Reading For Writers 

By Jane Sandwood

You might love writing, but if you don’t regularly read you’re probably not going to be able to write well. It sounds harsh, but imagine a painter who doesn’t view artwork. Imagine a florist who doesn’t pay attention to flowers. Reading has many general benefits, such as providing an escape from stress, but there are also benefits that specifically apply to writers. 

Research from the University of Toronto found that when people read short stories or non-fiction articles before having their tolerance for uncertainty tested, those who read the stories were less likely to need cognitive closure, which is defined as the need to have a quick conclusion without any ambiguity. Readers of fiction specifically had a greater ability to think creatively without getting tied down to one idea or conclusion. This is good for you as a writer as it helps you flex your imagination muscle, find writing inspiration around you, and get those creative juices flowing. Here are other reasons why you should pick up a book on a regular basis. 

Build Your Vocabulary

Various research has shown that reading provides benefits for students: the more they read, the more they improve their vocabulary. As a writer, with more words at your disposal, you’re better armed to express what you mean and describe a thrilling world for your reader.

Improve Your Analytical Skills 

Reading books is more beneficial to you than just reading newspapers or websites. You’re not just skimming headlines but going deeper into a story. You’re thinking critically as you read a novel or work of non-fiction. Your brain is actually making connections, creating new pathways between its four lobes and both of its hemispheres. These neural pathways encourage quicker thinking, which is beneficial when you’re drawing up your novel plot.

 Gain More Knowledge 

Reading books gives you information that becomes part of your accumulated knowledge. As a writer, you never know when this information will be useful, such as when researching your novel or following writing advice such as “write what you know.” When you know more, you can write more.

Boost Your Empathy

When you’re completely absorbed by a novel that’s filled with characters who are interesting and well-rounded, you’ll find it easier to relate to them. You can imagine putting yourself in their shoes. Literary fiction has the ability to help readers understand what other people are going through by reading their emotions, according to research published in the Science journal. When you can understand others’ decisions, motives, and emotions, this equips you with empathy that seeps into your writing – and creates a stronger novel that readers will enjoy and be able to relate to on an emotional level.

Reading Encourages Your Five Senses

An amazing fact is that reading stimulates the brain’s neurological parts so that you feel like you’re actually living the experiences in the book. Spanish research found that when you read the word “cinnamon” it activates the olfactory part of the brain associated with smell. French research found that when reading about someone doing something, such as running or jumping, the movement part of their brain is stimulated. By reading, you can, therefore, immerse yourself in various experiences that encourage your five senses to work more. This can carry over to your writing, creating intriguing and riveting stories.

Reading Helps You Relax 

Not only does reading help you to boost your writing skills, but it can also provide a good escape from it, like when you’re experiencing a case of writer’s block. Research from the University of Sussex found that reading is an effective way to relax and de-stress. When people’s heart rates and muscle tension were monitored after reading, researchers found it took just six minutes of reading for their bodies to relax by up to 68 percent. Take some time off to read and you’ll be back on the writing horse in no time. 

Author’s Bio:

Benefits Of Reading For Writers  two drops of ink

Jane Sandwood

Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer and editor with over 10 years’ experience working across many fields. When Jane isn’t writing, she is busy spending time with her family. She also enjoys music, reading and travelling whenever she can.

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  1. Thank you for the many benefits expressed in your post, Jane. I have found them to be true in my own life. I have always been an avid reader, and reading does indeed develop
    Better writers by offering the various benefits you outlined in your post.
    If for some reason, reading just for the pleasure of it isn’t enough – then we writers should stop to consider all the other benefits awaiting us within those magical pages otherwise known as books!

  2. Thank you for the many good ideas expressed on your post.

    However I wonder what is meant by “non-fiction”. For instance, what was the non-fiction material used in the research of the University of Toronto? Did it include literary essays? Newspaper reports? Scientific literature? The abstract does not say, and the full article is only available on purchase.

    As for boosting empathy, I feel that some biographies (technically non-fiction) do this very effectively.

  3. Jane,
    As a teacher of young children I have known about the reading/writing connection. I wish I could get parents to understand what you so beautifully expressed here. Thanks for the links to the research, too! I am an avid reader and believe so many of the worlds problems could be solved if reading different perspectives was a requirement!

  4. Good post, Jane! I have always been an avid reader (thank you, Mom) and especially enjoy finding new words or new bits of information on a topic I’m not that familiar with. I mostly read on a Nook app now, and find that to be wonderful. When I encounter something I don’t know, it’s easy to look it up and learn something new! A case in point is Dan Brown’s Origins, which I recently finished. Like most of his work, it’s a good, suspenseful read. I found myself looking up a lot of things.

  5., Jane. Sound advice on why reading matters, even to a writer, and I’m going to follow it to get my stress reduced by 68% after typing this quote:

    “All of us are writers reading other people’s writing, turning pages or clicking to the next screen with pleasure and admiration. All of us absorb other people’s words, feeling like we have gotten to know the authors personally in our own ways, even if just a tiny bit. True, we may also harbor jealousy or resentment, disbelief or disappointment. We may wish we had written those words ourselves or berate ourselves for knowing we never could or sigh with relief that we didn’t, but thank goodness someone else has.” ― Pamela Paul, By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review

    Now off to read. My excuse today? Head cold and under the covers.

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