As a freelance writer, you are probably always looking for ways to improve your skills.
Have you ever thought about reading?
Reading is an amazing way to develop the skills you need to make you a better writer. It gives you the opportunity to observe successful writers and helps you learn more about writing.
Just as musicians listen to music and artists attend art shows, writers need to read in order to evolve their skills!
Reading can help you learn more about things like writing rules, writing styles, and developing a writing voice.
It can also help you unwind and destress.
Let’s look at more reasons why reading is important for freelance writers, as well as some ways you can become a better reader.
I’ll then end with how reading other freelance writing articles can help you with deciding a writing niche.
How Does Reading Make You a Better Writer?
Other than simply saying you can become a better writer, what does reading help you with?
Here are some of the ways that reading can improve your writing.
1. Improves Your Vocabulary
Becoming a better writer means expanding and improving your vocabulary, which you can do by reading.
When you read books and articles and come across new words, you can look up the definition and add them to your vocabulary to freshen up your writing.
Just make sure you fully understand what the word means, and don’t use complicated words in text that is supposed to be straightforward and concise.
2. Improves Your Grammar
Reading is important for freelance writers because it can also help you improve your grammar, even if you use Grammarly to help you out!
The more you read books and articles, the more familiar you will become with grammar rules without even realizing you’re learning about grammar.
You’ll unconsciously incorporate what you read into your own writing and start noticing things like when misplaced commas just don’t look right.
3. Helps You Explore Different Writing Styles
As a freelance writer, one important writing skill is to be able to match your tone and voice to your client’s when creating content for the brand and business.
To help you explore different tones and voices, you need to expose yourself to different writing styles.
When you read, pay attention to the author’s writing style and how they talk to the reader.
You can also combine different writing styles to create your own unique voice.
4. Eliminates Writer’s Block
One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block and get back into the groove is to read the work of other writers. This can inspire your own writing!
And what you read doesn’t even have to be related to what you are writing. Reading anything can give your brain the time and space it needs to refresh.
However, reading something else on the same topic can be helpful when it comes to giving you a new perspective on your own work.
5. Helps You Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Becoming a better writer involves more than spelling and grammar. You have to be able to present content in a way that is informative, reliable, and convincing.
Another way reading improves writing is by helping you develop critical thinking skills, which is the ability to analyze facts and form a rational judgment on a topic.
When you read the work of others, think about the facts the writer is presenting and whether or not the content seems credible.
You’ll learn how to assess what you read and determine what makes a piece of content good. You’ll also be able to look at your own writing with a more critical eye.
6. Improves Concentration and Memory
Reading can help improve your concentration and memory by exercising your brain.
In fact, simply reading for pleasure has been linked to intellectual growth in areas such as vocabulary, spelling, and math.
When you improve your cognitive functioning, you improve your writing skills because you are better able to make mental connections, concentrate, and retain more information.
7. Reduces Stress
Being a freelance writer can be stressful. Trust me, I know!
Even if you’re not looking to improve your writing skills through books, reading is a great way to reduce stress and calm your mind.
As long as you’re reading something you enjoy and not something that will upset you!
Because reading engages the mind, it creates an almost meditative state that can lower your heart rate, reduce muscle tension, and reduce stress levels.
So, if you’re not in the mood to read books to become a better writer, you can always read something you enjoy to relax!
How to Get Better At Reading
How to become good at reading doesn’t mean the actual act of reading. It means building good habits to improve your reading and writing skills.
Now you know how reading improves writing, let’s look at some ways you can create these habits and get better at reading:
Read Every Day
Building a good reading habit starts with taking time each day to read.
You can start by dedicating just 10-15 minutes every day to reading, whether you are reading books to become a better writer, a novel you enjoy, or articles in a magazine.
Also, pick a time of day that works best for you. Some people enjoy reading before they go to sleep, while others find it easier to read first thing in the morning.
Set Reading Goals
Usually, when people talk about setting reading goals, they mean trying to read a certain number of books in a month.
For freelancer writers, reading goals can look a little different!
For instance, you can make it a goal to broaden your vocabulary in a certain subject that interests you. Read about that topic and make note of new words you come across.
Or you can make it a goal to learn about a new niche or aspect of freelance writing.
The possibilities are endless!
Take Notes While You Read
You can improve your reading and writing skills by taking notes as you read.
This can include writing down new words and ideas – whatever pops into your head!
You may even find yourself coming up with new ideas for your own content that isn’t even related to what you are reading.
So always keep a pen and piece of paper handy!
Books to Become a Better Writer
In order to become a better writer, you must read – this we now know!
But what can you read to become a better writer?
Let’s look at some books you should check out to improve your reading and writing skills:
1. The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner
In this book, author Betsy Lerner walks you through how to start writing and publishing as well as how to deal with the anxiety of being a writer.
She also goes over the creative process of writing.
2. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
If you’re looking for a more technical help to improve your writing skills, check out On Writing Well.
It includes practical lessons to help you become a better writer.
3. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
In this book, Ray Bradbury explores the passion of writing versus simply writing to make money.
It includes a collection of stories and anecdotes based on his experience as a writer.
4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott writes about things like how to get started as a writer and how to overcome writer’s block.
Her simple steps are easy to understand and will help you discover your passion as a writer.
5. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Connor
While most writers rely on Grammarly to help them sort out spelling and grammar errors (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), it’s also important to understand how grammar works.
In this book, the author uses plain English and fun examples to help you understand grammar rules so you can become a better writer.
6. Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power by William Brohaugh
Write Tight is a great book for online content writers to help make writing clear and concise.
William Brohaugh goes over how to recognize redundancy and remove empty modifiers as well as other dead weight in your writing.
It’s Time to Read Other Freelance Writers’ Articles
Now that you know how important it is to read to hone your skills, what about figuring out your writing niche?
As a new freelance writer, this is the time to look at other freelance writers for a few specific reasons. While reading different writing styles helps with getting the right tone for your client, when you read other freelance writer’s projects, you can see different types of writing niches.
The more portfolios you visit from freelance writers, the more chances you will see new types of services and niches that you can try out.
Another reason why it’s a good idea to visit other freelance writer websites, is to see what companies these writers are writing for.
Now, don’t go and gather a list of those companies to pitch to!
Instead, look at the type of companies these writers are writing for.
Are they specific SaaS companies or fintech companies?
You can also see if these companies are fortune 500 companies or startups.
This will get you an idea of the quality of clients and can help you create your client ladder.
It can also give you metrics on the businesses these writers are working for and can help you find competitors and more information about that industry, all helping you narrow down your writing niche.
How to Become a Better Reader and Writer
Developing good reading habits is a surefire way to help you become a better freelance writer!
If you’re interested in learning more about books that can help you become a better writer, check out these posts:
- 31 Best Books on Writing You Have to Read
- 12 Best Personal Finance Books for Freelance Writers
- 19 Important Freelance Writing Books You Need
- 12 Editing Books for Beginner Freelance Writers
- 16 Best Copywriting Books You Should Read
And let me know what your favorite books are in the comments below!