What? I Can Write! Engagement, Part Two: Read for All You’re Worth!

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What? I Can Write!

“A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.”—Samuel Johnson

Engagement, Part Two: Read for All You’re Worth!

Read any good books lately? If you desire to write, I hope so. Good writing is the fruit of an active, curious mind, and reading is an indispensable element of a writer’s daily mental diet. English essayist and poet Joseph Addison said, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." As a writer, you need to exercise your mind on a daily basis and there is no better regimen than to read.

The key is to read widely. Read every day and don't limit yourself to your preferred genres. Challenge yourself. Break new ground in your reading. If you usually read prose, treat yourself to some poetry. If novels are normally your bag, try a biography or a memoir or a work of history. The more widely you read, the more you will stretch your mind and the more engaged you will become with the ideas and ideologies, the hopes and dreams, the heart and soul of our common humanity.

Reading expands your horizons. It exposes you to other worldviews, philosophies, and experiences and helps give birth in your own mind to new ideas and possibilities. Thoreau wrote, "How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book."

Reading introduces you to the varied styles of many different writers. As you write, you will develop your own style, but reading widely will show you that there is no one “right” way to write; the right way is whatever works for you.

Perhaps most importantly, reading gives wings to your imagination so it can take flight.

“What reading does, ultimately, is keep alive the dangerous and exhilarating idea that life is not a sequence of lived moments, but a destiny."—Sven Birkerts

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