Reading for Writers 101

It’s a new week! Our featured book is Free Within Ourselves by Jewell Parker Rhodes. In a book loaded with exercises to help young writers develop, Rhodes’s first exercise is READING! She says:

“Just as you can’t breathe without inhaling and exhaling, you can’t develop as a writer without being a devoted reader.”

But Rhodes doesn’t just tell us to read. She helps us think of ways to find time to read and gives us exercises to help us read thoughtfully as writers. Here are some suggestions I’ve pulled from chapter 2.

  • Strive for at least 3 books a month until you make reading a serious habit. Then you can up the number.
  • Read a great variety of books by authors of different nationalities, races, genders, historical periods, life styles, genres, etc.
  • Let reading substitute for other mundane tasks such as watching television, and take a book with you everywhere you go.
  • Write journal responses to the books you read.
  • Highlight, underline, and make notes about passages you find especially well-written.

I’ll let Rhodes explain in her own words how reading is so valuable in developing ourselves as writers:

“When you thoughtfully reread a book and contemplate why you think a passage,  a scene, or a sentence is well done, you are training yourself to read for technique–the ‘how’ of good writing .

With each element you highlight, ask: ‘What did the writer choose to do or not to do?”

Encouraging the habit of more thoughtful reading encourages the habit of more thoughtful and skilled writing!”

This explains my passion for launching this blog. While my posts are about books that explicitly teach craft, writers can learn technique from any book.

Till next time,

Sarah