One of the most underutilized tools in the writer’s utility belt is other books. In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how you don’t exactly need a fancy degree to become a writer. It’s not one of those kinds of professions. Now, she did also speak at length about how that doesn’t mean that she discourages higher education or disparages those who go to get a degree like an MFA in Creative Writing or disparages the process itself.

It’s just that authors have different textbooks than other people do – and that usually means other books.

There’s hardly a better way to learn a crisp writing style than to read some John Steinbeck or Ernest Hemingway. J.K. Rowling is a hell of a world builder. J.R.R. Tolkien had dedication for days. And you’ll learn about a moving omniscient narrator from Ken Follet’s classic “The Pillars of the Earth.”

The point is that once you decide that you want to be a writer as a profession, there’s no more reading solely for pleasure, because every book that you have has something to teach you about the craft of writing, whether it’s a good book or a bad book.

But who says learning isn’t fun? 😉

Happy Friday, and may you make the most of all your reading experiences. What are you reading right now? What is it teaching you about writing?

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