A couple of days ago, someone asked me where my inspiration as a blogger comes from. The unspoken question I sensed was more like, “What do you do when you get ‘blogger’s block’”?
(You know bloggers’ block, that close cousin to writer’s block?)
“Oh, I have a special fairy for that,” I said.
There was a deep silence on the other end of the phone line.
Of course, I was being my usual smarty pants self.
I’ll be contributing my real answers to that question in a future guest post on Leo Babauta and Mary Jaksch’s wildly popular Write to Done blog.
But for now, let me just share one insanely simple reason I don’t get blogger’s block.
I heard on an NPR radio show last week that 27 percent of Americans did not read one book last year.
Not a single book.
Okay, I may not be the norm on this issue. I’ve been a book junkie since I was five.
I was the one who had to consume words with my breakfast. I read the back of the Trix cereal box, and even the side—all the way through those disgusting ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, red dye and trisodium phosphate.
And yes, having taught first graders to read for 10 years, I value education.
But still. One in four read not a single book.
I read, on average, a book a week. (Business books don’t count.)
My tastes run everywhere from Harry Potter books to Les Miserables. And in between that, every memoir, biography or true crime book I can get my hands on.
5 reasons bloggers and writers should be readers
Bloggers and writers should be avid readers. Reading opens up the mind, makes you think in different ways and helps you understand all kinds of people, even if they are in a fictional setting.
Whether you consider yourself a blogger, a writer or a business owner who blogs, reading lots of books across multiple genres helps you:
1. Discover more new ideas—or new slants on old ideas.
As strange as it sounds, new ideas for blog posts come to me when I am reading. I keep a notebook by my nightstand. Something will happen in a book, I’ll ask myself, “What if…? and sometimes a new post idea springs to mind.
2. Improve your vocabulary.
If you are ever pained trying to think of just the right word to use in a sentence, you’ll find the words coming to you easier the more you read.
3. Claim your voice and writing style.
Reading lots of different authors helps you nail your unique voice. For a while, I fell in love with different authors’ styles—Mary Carr (The Liars’ Club), Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones, Long Quiet Highway) and others. I tried on pieces, a few at a time, and in the process found my own.
4. Touch emotions.
No matter the kind of blog you have, your readers want to feel something when they open up one of your posts. Because if your blog is bland, if it doesn’t connect with your readers on an emotional level, they probably won’t hang around long.
When you read a lot, you get a sense of how different writers appeal to the senses and emotions. As you write each post, ask yourself, “What do I want my reader to feel?”
5. Tell your stories better.
One of my guest posters, the brilliant A. Victoria Mixon, recently showed us how we can improve our storytelling with basic fiction techniques.
As you immerse yourself in the characters and plots in the books you read, you’ll soon begin absorbing more ways to do that.
Just in case you’re curious about the last 5 books I read, here they are:
Old Friend from Far Away by Natalie Goldberg
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (unbelievably, I hadn’t read it yet)
About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (for the gazillionth time)
What about you?
Do you find time to read?
Is reading a lost art?
Do you think reading more makes you a better blogger?
If you liked this post, I invite you to subscribe to the Cat’s Eye Writer blog so you don’t miss a single issue.