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Scott Lax Blog

Reading to Become Better Writers

You've heard it before, I know: but for writers, reading is so important. It exercises your literary brain cells. It gives you ideas. It expands your world far beyond your house and garden, place of work, and the places you go, from the grocery store to the park. I'm reading - with great fascination - Ian Frazier's New Yorker account of traveling through Siberia. I'm seeing Siberia through his eyes, and learning a lot about a mysterious part of the world, one that covers more land than the U.S. and Europe combined.

For writers: I suggest you try to sink your mind into substantial works, be they fiction, nonfiction, long essays, features, short stories or novels. Think about how the author has worked to put so many facts and impressions and narrative story lines together. Read actively (not stressfully); ask yourself how he or she was able to weave together such a magnificent story - or, if you don't like what you read, why that doesn't work for you, and what it lacks. That alone can help you get into the rhythm of writing longer pieces, and doing so with the same kind of satisfaction you get (I hope) from reading such pieces.  Read More