author, creative writing, writing

4 Reasons to Read When You Have Writer’s Block

Writer’s block. We’ve (probably) all been there. The words won’t come, the ideas fall flat and your motivation falters to a halt. How to combat it? There are plenty of ways. One is simply to write anyway. You could try freewriting, or find a great prompt or go for a walk. And you could also read. Recently, reading is what lifted be from a writer’s slump, and got me back on track. So here are four reasons reading is a perfect choice when writer’s block has got you down:

1. It’s still progress
Many an author has suggested that reading is an essential tool for writing. Whether you read a little, or read a lot, chances are everything you’ve read has helped to make you a better writer. And reading is a valuable way to experience vocabulary and language and the general structure of story telling. As such, reading is still progress. Call it career progression if you will! If you really can’t write, but feel you should be, try reading for a while instead.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Richard Steele

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2. It’s inspiring
A book, a real published book, is the product of somebody who was once unpublished. And you’re able to read it because their time and their effort and their skill paid off. It’s a fantastic way to remind you of that end goal, if its your dream to be published. But it’s not just that…experiencing the way an author has put words together, their choice of metaphor, their descriptions of characters, is a really fantastic way to give you the motivation to get back to writing your own story. I always find myself, especially upon reading a particularly beautiful sentence, desperate to pick up my own pen and get down some words.
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3. It gives you a break
Sometimes all you really need is a break. To step away from your work and come back to it with fresh eyes. Reading should help you relax, help you escape, and fill your mind with something different and new. This way you can return to your work with a fresh perspective, which can trigger ideas to help you push past the block.
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4. It reminds you what you enjoy (and what you don’t!)
There isn’t a book in the world loved by everyone who read it, and I’m sure we’ve all read a number of books we’ve disliked for various reasons. Reading helps to remind you what it is you love about a story, but also what puts you off. This can really help you to work on your own book, because you’ll be in the right mindset to decide what works for you and what doesn’t.

“Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.” – William Faulkner

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Do you read when writer’s block hits? Or do you have a different method that helps you pull through? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!

Until then,
Keep writing (and if you can’t, keep reading!)

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24 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Read When You Have Writer’s Block”

  1. I like the idea of reading still being progress. Reading is definitely something a writer needs to do, so reading is still being productive. As is marking up other people’s manuscripts. Wow, that makes me feel a lot better. I’m not as lazy as I thought. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree reading will usually shift a block – especially if you’ve ground to a halt because you’re feeling jaded. If it’s because you’ve taken a wrong turn or run out of road then I find going back to where it was working and reading what you’ve written afterwards (possibly more than once) will show you the way you should be going. And sometimes it isn’t a block but too much going round inside our brain and being overwhelmed as to which choice to make. In these instances emptying our cluttered conscious of those thoughts is often a better option – allowing the subconscious to sort the mess out. If reading. or a walk, don’t work try gardening (if you’ve got one), or painting (a picture, unless you actually had planned to paint the lounge) – you don’t have to be artistic – it’s a hand-eye-brain activity that leaves no room for conscious thoughts to continue rattling around.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love these tips! I don’t often struggle with writer’s block, but I know I definitely don’t read as much as I should because of my weird work schedule. But the other day I was listening to an audiobook, and a plot twist made me realize what my book was lacking. Reading is definitely important! 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Something I’ve found useful is to read something I probably wouldn’t normally read. Want an example. First, I think Tom Clancy rules. That said, when I’m slowing down on my writing or strting to lack inspiration, I go elsewhere. Zane Grey is someone I’ll turn to. Easy to read and throughly enjoyable. Or I’ll pick up one of my personal favs, Trails Plowed Under, by Charlie Russell. Who simple they wrote and the apssion always get’s me back into the saddle.

    Liked by 1 person

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