How Your Reading Material Can Influence Your Writing

This is a guest post from Angelita Williams

You may have read a host of rationales and tips for improving and/or changing your writing style, but I’ll bet that most of them used your writing itself as the starting point.

Have you ever considered that you may be able to influence your writing by changing your reading habits?

Even if you aren’t directly inspired by the books you’ve read, you should know that you’re constantly drawing from their content on some subconscious level when you write.

You Write What You Read

When you’re enjoying a particular work of fiction, your creative mind tends to latch onto that author’s writing style, word usage, and methods of characterization. If you’ve been reading Victorian romance novels, for example, I’d be willing to bet that you’re writing would have an ornate flourish to it, paying particular attention to detailed descriptions of setting.

Alternately, I’d bet that a current reader of Hemingway or Faulkner would have an understated, minimalistic strain in their prose.

So if you’re unsatisfied with the state of your writing, certainly give it an honest appraisal, but also take a good look at the books you’ve been reading recently. They could very well hold the key to your writing woes.

The Books That Get Under Our Skin

Your reading habits could also be affecting your writing beyond mere stylistic influences. If you’re reading a moving story, it could affect your entire mindset as you write. A particularly wrenching and sad love story could be making your more glum than you give it credit for, and the consequences might be evidenced all over your recent drafts.

Think about it for a second: if you see a well-done dark and gloomy film at a movie theatre, its atmosphere stays with you long after you’ve gone home. Imagine what a book that you’ve been reading for days and days on end does for your psyche.

And this problem isn’t limited to sad novels: if you’re trying to right a particularly grave and serious work of fiction, you might want to forgo any P.G. Wodehouse novels or light beach reading because their levity will probably bleed into the mood of your work.

In an ideal world, you would keep your extraneous reading to a minimum while you’re writing, but for most writers that’s an unrealistic rule to live by.

Read to Your Advantage

You can also tackle your use of inspirational reading as a means of experimenting with new genres and narratives styles. In other words, if you want to try your hand at writing science fiction, what better way could you start than by picking up a classic novel by Isaac Asimov or Anne McCaffrey?

Reading is one of the best tools in your writing arsenal, and the sooner you understand its potency, the better off your writing will be.

How do your reading habits influence your writing style?

About the Author: This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7 @gmail.com.

Image courtesy of Jayel Aheram

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