Want More People To Read What You Write? Tell Better Stories.


“Just practice!”

How many times have you heard that from a teacher when you just aren’t understanding how to factor different polynomials or deduce the theme of a novel?

Once upon a time, I struggled with elementary school math. I couldn’t grasp the concept of negative numbers. How could anything less than zero exist? My mind was blown. According to my cousin, who was trying to do my parents a favour by helping me with math, I just needed to practice.

Great advice.

After a lot of trial-and-error, I eventually caught on and grew to love math. It took months of torturing, I mean teaching myself to understand the concepts, but that’s a story for another time.

Today is all about reading to improve writing skills.

Yes, consistent practice leads to improvement, so what my cousin told me was partially true, but there’s more to it than just writing and writing until you one day wake up as the next Virginia Woolf.

One secret to spice up your writing doesn’t involve writing at all. Actually, it involves reading.

What we read influences what we think and what we learn, and thus how we behave. Reading makes us better writers: fiction or essays. Reading allows us to gain knowledge and learn new ways of seeing the world around us. Reading enhances our vocabulary by exposing us to unique words and phrases. Reading shows us how to put together all the grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation lessons we have learned in a cohesive and meaningful way.

But there’s a trick to it. Being able to read a string of text is just the start. To get the most benefit out of every short story, paragraph, or article, we need to think about what we’re reading, consider how it applies to us, and analyze its significance.

Since it’s February, here’s a list of stories depicting different kinds of love — from familial to romantic — for anyone who wants to read more and get in the Valentine’s Day mood:

  1. Educated by Tara Westover
  2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
  3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


Here are some questions to consider while reading:

  1. What words or phrases does the author use to convey their meaning and why do you think they use these?
  2. Does this relate to me? How?
  3. What message is the author trying to tell us?
  4. Can I compare this to any other texts I have read in the past?
  5. What genre is this?
  6. What kind of language and style does the author use? Is it successful?


Give it a try! Read more, think about what you’re reading, and see how your writing transforms.

This post was previously published on medium.com.


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