Write, read, repeat

Ray Bradbury quote about writing

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have pleasant careers.”  ~ Ray Bradbury

Write!

The best writers I know do two things daily: They write and they read.

They also get feedback on their writing from people who can evaluate it objectively and provide honest input — “This part confused me,” or “I found the unusual character names distracting.”

Growing and improving as a writer involves soliciting and incorporating feedback you can trust.

But it also takes practice. That comes from writing daily.

Read!

It also requires reading — lots of it.

I’m always surprised when I see an author-to-be comment, “I don’t read” or “I’m not much of a reader.”

How can that be? How do you know what good writing looks like if you don’t see it regularly by reading what others write?

Can you really find your way through a writing problem without studying how others have resolved that dilemma?

What about creative inspiration? How can you be creative or innovative when you don’t know how others structure their stories?

How do you know whether your writing meets conventional standards if you don’t read what others write?

You don’t need to look far to validate this theory that good writers are big readers — just turn to Facebook.

If your connections on that social network are like mine, you’ll see that the posts with correct spelling and grammar are probably from people who also comment about what they’re reading, whether it’s articles or books. Reading teaches you — in the most pleasant way possible — correct spelling, sentence structure, and grammar.

You absorb what’s “right” without instruction or lectures.

Repeat!

It’s important to repeat both steps continually. It’s like anything else — the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

When you learned how to ride a bike as a kid, you weren’t very good at it at first, were you? As you got feedback — “Keep pedaling!” or “Look straight ahead!” — you improved. The more you practiced, the better you got.

It works that way with writing, too.

It works the same way with reading. The more you read, the more you learn about how to present your information, whether you write fiction or nonfiction.

Take Ray Bradbury’s word for it: The “write, read, repeat” formula will improve your writing.

Do you write daily? What’s your routine? Tell us in a comment. 

Looking to take your book marketing to the next level? Register for tomorrow’s free webinar, “How to Get Your Book To #1 on Amazon,” at http://www.powerupforprofits.com/sandrawebinar. Kathleen Gage will teach you a few new tricks! We’ll send a replay link to everyone who registers.


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested. Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.
15 Responses to Write, read, repeat
  1. Kathy Steinemann
    June 14, 2017 | 9:18 am

    “Reading teaches you — in the most pleasant way possible — correct spelling, sentence structure, and grammar.”

    Ouch. Not so much. Now that it’s easy to hit the PUBLISH button, anyone can sell a book. I see so many typos, grammar errors, and structure blunders that I feel embarrassed for the writers.

    Having said that, the errors make me more determined not to repeat the same boo-boos in my own work.

    I love reading. It has been my escape since childhood, including Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. Ray was a prolific writer, and I’m sad we won’t see any more new stories from him.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 14, 2017 | 9:23 am

      Kathy, readers who stick to books written by professional writers rather than by self-published authors who don’t know how to write and don’t hire an editor will learn from books.

      Sandy

  2. Pamela Cummins
    June 14, 2017 | 9:49 am

    How baffling it is to my mind that a writer doesn’t read! I love, love, love to read; in fact, I always read at least a chapter or two before going to sleep. A day spent reading a book is a day of luxury. Other authors have influenced my writing, they taught me the good and the bad. Excellent post, Sandra.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 14, 2017 | 9:54 am

      Thank you, Pamela. I’m always surprised when someone who says they’re writing a book also says they’re not readers. How can you know how to write if you don’t read? I agree with you on that “day of luxury” comment! So true!

      Sandy

  3. Vicki Weisfeld
    June 14, 2017 | 10:52 am

    To answer your question, yes, I write every day–between blog posts, working on my novel (more editing than writing, in that case), and developing short stories. I try to alternate reading in my genre (crime, mystery, thriller) with reading good literary fiction and non-fiction. I also always have an audio book going too. When I’m having a bad day, I sit and write a while and I feel better. 🙂

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 14, 2017 | 12:44 pm

      This doesn’t surprise me, Vicki. How interesting that writing can be therapeutic for you. Why’s that, do you think?

      Sandy

  4. Sharon Ervin
    June 14, 2017 | 11:47 am

    Awfully simple. When asked how to write a book, Author Jean Hager told the questioner (and the large audience), “Put your butt in the chair.”

    Do it and do it daily, is great advice and comes from many successful authors. I am a believer.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 14, 2017 | 12:44 pm

      Butt in chair is a good start, Sharon! Thanks!

      Sandy

  5. Johnson Grace Maganja
    June 15, 2017 | 3:39 am

    Thanks for the good work Sandra.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 15, 2017 | 8:55 am

      I hope you’ll come back, Johnson.

      Sandy

  6. Anikka Forbes
    June 15, 2017 | 6:49 pm

    Hi Everyone, I’m a newbie to Sandra’s fab blog as well as a new author in the making.🙏🏾

    I felt this was a great topic as I can say I am 1 of those writers who loves to write but terrible at reading books… but enjoy reading the newspaper or magazines.

    I don’t know if this is of the norm as someone who has been writing in Diaries for the last 17yrs and now creating my 1st book ‘memoir’ style.

    Question to all:
    Do you think it’s a bad idea to include #hashtags or emojis into a book or keep it simple, to the norm with words only?

    Thank you in advance.☺️

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 15, 2017 | 7:05 pm

      Anikka, as long as you’re reading, you’re covered!

      As for hashtags and emojis, I suppose it depends what you’re writing and your target audience.

      Sandy

  7. Lori Puma
    June 20, 2017 | 11:30 am

    Hi Sandra,

    I agree that writers need to read. But I think your point about writers getting feedback on *their* writing is even more important. I also think that if you really want to learn from the books you read there needs to be an intention.

    I’m writing a memoir right now and I’m reading other memoirs. I’m also taking notes on the authors structure their books. What are the scenes that are common to all the memoirs that I know I’ll need to include? How do authors split their books into chapters and parts? What do they include and what do they leave out?

    You can read a lot of stories, but I think you need personal feedback on your writing and reflection and analysis of other people’s writing to truly learn the craft. Do you agree?

    • Sandra Beckwith
      June 20, 2017 | 11:40 am

      I do agree, Lori, but I’ll add that I don’t recommend always reading with intention.

      There’s reading just for the sake of reading, and there’s reading as research, which is what you’re referring to. For example, I write nonfiction but if I wanted to switch to fiction, I would, as you’ve suggested, start taking notes on most novels that I read to find commonalities, structures that I like, and so on. I’d use that to help shape any novel I’d write.

      But if there’s always intention behind my reading, it starts to become work. So I’m good with reading for pleasure, too, and along the way, maybe improving my spelling, grammar, and vocabulary simply because of what I see on the page. (Maybe.)

      Sandy

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