3. Get to know other cultures, gain insights, and develop empathy so you can connect with readers.
Writing should invite the reader into the author’s world, either her real world or the one she designed. But developing an authentic and inviting voice or appropriately demonstrating worldview and experience requires something beyond the lived experience of the author.
Reading books helps develop a well-rounded worldview that allows an author to share her story and for people to connect with it. It also helps an author to tell another’s story authentically, with a firm grasp on historical and cultural context, and without appropriation.
Books offer wonderful opportunities to learn about people we may never meet. I don’t have the budget or vacation time to see every part of the world I want to see, but I can check out books on a variety of cultures for free at the library five blocks from my apartment. Historical works help us better understand the past, and I’ve read several textbooks to learn about the subjects I never studied in school. Reading essays and memoirs written by people with different backgrounds and mindsets from my own has made me more empathetic and challenged beliefs I considered unshakeable. As a person who benefits from a great deal of privilege, I know I can never learn too much about others’ worldviews and experiences. Reading a diverse authorship has made me more empathetic and better able to write characters who have different backgrounds than I do. Professionally, that empathy and cultural awareness has made me passionate about ensuring people write in a way that’s accessible to as many people as possible. “The pen is mightier than the sword” is a cliché for a reason; dive into powerful works with an openness to change, and you probably will.
4. Step away from your own work and return to it refreshed and inspired.
Writers’ block plagues even professional writers. Sometimes I can write for pages with no trouble and then find myself completely stuck because I can’t figure out what word I want to use, and somehow that spirals into a sense that the rest of my piece won’t work until I figure out what I want that sentence to say. I’ve been writing long enough to know that mentality is neither reasonable nor sustainable, so rather than give up the piece, I usually opt to step away from my screen and go for a walk or pick up a book. Both are good ways to distance yourself from what you’re doing, and reading has the added benefit of potentially reminding you of that one word that would be perfect in that sentence you stared at for fifteen minutes before giving up. And even if your reading break doesn’t remind you of fortuitous or pulsate, you’ll still reap the first two benefits we mentioned, and your eyes will thank you for looking away from blue light.
Make Your Writing Even Better with WordRake
We always encourage reading, but to strengthen your writing even more, run it through WordRake. It will flag unnecessary words, high-level grammatical errors, and tighten clunky phrases. WordRake even catches wordiness in Jack London and Ernest Hemingway’s writing. Try it free for seven days here.
About the Author
Caroline Engle is WordRake’s Marketing Communications Specialist. She convinced WordRake to hire her as an intern after placing in editing competitions and writing a novel in a month. When she isn’t editing or writing copy, coordinating conference logistics, or helping improve WordRake’s functionality, she’s reading, going on ten-mile walks, or looking up flight prices. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.