Monday, June 4, 2012

Be a Reader to Be a Writer

Photo/Steven Forster, Random House

I’ve been to countless writing workshops and journalism conferences over the years and the speakers always give the same piece of advice when it comes to being a better writer: be a better reader. By reading the work of other writers you can learn how to develop a voice, how to craft a phrase and how to make your writing more descriptive.

Don’t feel you have to limit your reading to the “classics” or books about writing. Read anything and everything – fiction, non-fiction, magazines, blogs, the daily newspaper. Surround yourself with words.

One of my all-time favorite writers is Rick Bragg, an author, former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner. Bragg achieves something that is incredibly difficult: writing that is simple and powerful. In just a sentence or two he can paint a picture, transport you to another time or evoke an emotion.

Check out his book “Somebody Told Me,” a collection of his newspaper stories. Originally from Alabama, Bragg has written books about his family and growing up in the Deep South, “All Over But the Shoutin’,” “Ava’s Man” and “The Prince of Frogtown.” You’ll also find his work in Southern Living and Garden & Gun magazines.

Bragg’s writing is really incredible, and I think you’ll be inspired by his style.

Do you have an author you like to read for his or her writing? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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