Two Tips for Freelance Writers: Read a Lot, Write a Lot

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Content writing jobs can be interesting. One day, you’re writing an outline for a children’s book, the next you’re describing different sizes of screws and bolts in 100 words or less for a hardware catalog. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it demands a little patience, sometimes it’s surprising, and sometimes it’s just a comfortable routine. Whatever you write, however you write, the most important thing you can do to be a better writer (and command higher rates) is to read a lot and write a lot. Simply by reading more, you will find yourself absorbing greater technique when it comes to sentence structure and composition, and your own personal style will grow and flourish.

If you’re writing full time, you’ve probably got that part down pat. Here are some tips for developing great reading habits if you’re one of those writers who struggles to finish three novels a year:

Read What You Like

Okay, so you like Tom Clancy novels or Harlequin romance. So what? The literati may tell you that you’ve got to read Moby Dick and Cormac McCarthy, but what we choose to read is as personal as how we choose to dress, where we choose to live, and what we like to eat. Read what you like so that it can be a pleasure, not a chore.

Keep a Bookshelf in the Bathroom

We all make use of the facilities and we all take baths. These are the perfect time to get some serious reading done.

Listen to Audiobooks

Download some audiobooks and listen to them while jogging, while driving, while doing dishes; any time your hands will be busy but your brain won’t be, you can squeeze in some reading.

Read a Chapter Before Bed

If you start and finish a chapter every night before bed, it’ll be hard not to finish a book every couple weeks or so.

Some Recommended Reading

Here’s a bonus, some recommended reading.

The Stranger, Albert Camus

If you want to come across like a brainy philosophical type, but you don’t have time to get into A Critique of Pure Reason, try this slim existential volume. It’s short and easy reading you can finish in an afternoon, if you like.

Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

Another slim one. This kitchen sink drama about an argumentative, intellectual brother-sister duo is a favorite among educated brainiacs.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

An exciting, dark, and inventive novel about a father and son at the end of the world.

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein

We hate to be the kind of people to say that the book is better, but even Peter Jackson, director of the Hobbit films, was less than enthused about stretching this comfy little adventure yarn into an epic trilogy.

Anything by Elmore Leonard

Like Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, King of New York and Scarface? Elmore Leonard is one of the most easy-to-read, consistently entertaining crime novelists that ever lived. He writes action movies on paper with hip dialogue and cool characters.

Read because you’re a writer, but more importantly, read because it’s fun.

Gilbert S lives and works in New Mexico with his wife and two cats. When he’s not writing, he’s either drawing or struggling to finish a book a month.


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