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Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Confessions of a compulsive reader

Author: ; Published: Feb 8, 2010; Category: Business Writing; Tags: , , ; No Comments

Vermeer painting of girl reading

I like to read: Magazines, books, websites. Hell, I’ll even read the copy on the back of cereal boxes.

From the time I learned to do it, I’ve been reading a lot. There are some benefits to this.

  • The more you read, the more you learn about different topics. This is useful to me because with a variety of clients, I am always writing about new subjects. In many cases something I’ve read before will relate to what one of my clients is doing now.
  • The more you read, the more you stimulate your brain and come up with new creative concepts.
  • The more you read, the more you hear other voices, and get ideas about what defines good and bad writing.

Of course defining good and bad writing can be controversial. But how about clarity? Most people will agree on that.

What’s good and bad might vary depending on the purpose. Is it a white paper or an ad? What’s the topic and who’s the audience?

Something might be appropriate for a specific audience, and you just don’t happen to be a part of that group, so it’s not speaking to you. But other times it’s not just a style thing; it’s just unclear.

Reading a variety of materials lets you see how writers address different topics, how they organize their material, how they persuade their readers. It lets you become a student and a critic, gathering nuggets of useful information and adding examples to the list of things you don’t want to do.

I do spend a lot of time reading things that might be considered work-related—
background for clients’ marketing projects, articles in professional journals, online content about words and grammar.

But other times I might be reading about cooking, a historical figure, or even fictitious characters, although I don’t get as much of this type of reading in as I would like.

I try not to feel guilty about any of it. Because if I think about it, as a writer, almost everything I read can be considered useful in furthering my work.

Yeah, that’s it; I’m not goofing off reading a book, no matter the topic, I’m working! It’s time to take a break from writing and get back to reading.

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