- Writing a lot.
- Reading even more.
The more you write, the more you get to practice flexing vocabulary and voice as well as how to put your ideas into clear thoughts. The more you read, the more you capture lessons about tone, sentence structure, cadence, and idea flow. And the more you do both, the more everything you touch, see, hear, and read becomes the seed of something else to write about.
There are some great posts out there about cultivating a writing habit, like these:
- Cultivate a Writing Habit: Chris Brogan
- 10 Steps to Create the Habit of Writing: Write to Done
- Seven Bad Writing Habits You Learned in School: Copyblogger
- Posts on Better Writing: Men with Pens
- Complete Your First Book with These 9 Simple Writing Habits: Dumb Little Man
These practices apply whether you’re blogging or penning a novel. Writing is an active discipline. You have to do it. Often.
But absorbing the written word in lots of different forms makes you a better writer. Period. Read blogs, articles, business books, biographies, fiction, whatever suits your fancy right now.
Not sure what to read? I piled a bunch of recommendations for books in my Twitter favorites. Scroll through them and you’ll find lots that have been tossed to me by my Twitter friends. And I keep an Evernote file called “Book List” where I capture all the titles I haven’t read, but want to, so I’m always prepared at the bookstore or the library.
Reading more helps you identify good writing AND bad writing, and how to tell the difference between the two. You’ll start learning to spot words that are smooth to read versus overly dense, the pace of delivering ideas and organizing them in a flow, length of sentences that are easy or hard to read, vocabulary that’s too high brow or not nuanced enough.
Julien Smith tells you how to read a book a week in 2010. I probably average that if not more, in addition to all the blogs I read and online articles, news, whitepapers, etc. I read a ton, and I write every day. If you hate to read, that’s going to be harder for you, but it’s important nonetheless.
If delivering content on the web in written form is something you seriously aspire to – for the sake of contribution of ideas or to make money or both – you’ d better learn what it takes to write well, and reading is an important step to doing just that.
There is no shortcut.
Are you a writer? Reader? Both? Do you agree? What are you reading right now?
image by moriza