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How Reading can Improve your Blogging

“Temporarily moonlighting from her current occupation of mother-to-two, Karen Andrews is going to talk about two of her favourite subjects: reading and blogging. If you’d like to read more of her work – with perhaps a bit of talk of bodily functions and toddler antics included – you can find her at www.miscmum.com

I don’t play poker well, so I am going to show my hand early: I like to think I know a bit about writing and reading. ‘Hang on, so do I!’ may say you. Certainly if you are blogging, you already know the importance of content, of exacting the best of your knowledge and putting it out in the bloggersphere, hopefully to be respected and successful.

But are you doing this at the expense of reading? Does it even matter? I think so, and so does Francis Bacon,

‘Reading maketh a full man’

Reading is an education

Before you start squirming, believing I am going to offer a teaspoon of icky medicine, consider this – education is increasingly being seen as a commodity: something you buy and discard. It’s less Dead Poets Society than it is ‘How to get perfect grades’. Knowledge isn’t retained. We’ve forgotten what we learned at school as soon as the bell rings for summer.

Blogging can change this. You research; you search for the right words. You recognise your audience and their needs. In a way, you are becoming an educator yourself so isn’t it important to be the best you can be? Further, wider, reading can improve your grammar (an area most of us are unsure about, let’s be honest) and expands your vocabulary. If you recognise various types of writing style or authorial voice, you are less likely to imitate them. Because the point is to develop your own, isn’t it? There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than a self-conscious writer.

Take a look at your blog. Are you overly apologetic? Do you always sit on the fence? Is your language bland? Do you overuse graphics and photos to compensate for language failings?

Tip: Read a blog you admire, and pick a post you particularly like. Imagine the author sitting at the keyboard and forming the keystrokes as they type. This is an adapted exercise many writing students are asked to complete (usually substituting keystrokes for pen strokes) in order to get a sense of rhythm and pace.


Reading affirms self

We are bombarded with images everyday: via television, billboards, even our mobile phones. When we do read, it’s usually without joy. We plough through websites or our RSS feeders, scanning for titbits of gossip, or breaking news, or scandal – things which create a momentary thrill but nothing lasting. And when reading becomes a chore, our eyes being to glaze; we question why we’re on the computer to begin with.

Tip: Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.

Turning to another subject you have passion for may just be an opportunity to tie together those parts of your self you are happy with; and overlook those bad ones we judge ourselves harshly for. What better reason than to read?

You have power as a reader

The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.

Writing for business and pleasure rarely congregate and the same can be said about reading. Those of us (myself included) who have to pen words for dollars often lose sight of the reasons why we wanted to blog in the first place: for passion, pride, love, ambition. If we read a bit more, lose ourselves to the pleasures of words once again, these same words may find us at times of blocked thought or starting at a white screen.

Read. Be inspired. For it may be the difference between blogging and giving it up altogether.

Read more of Karen’s work at Miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum Blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Douglas Karr says:

    Darren,

    Fantastic post. I could not agree more and may even push the topic and state without reading and learning on a daily basis, you will not have much of a blog.

    Regards,
    Doug

  2. Simmons says:

    You are absolutely correct. Not only that, but reading helps you write better.

  3. James says:

    Reading definitely has an impact on writing. It’s enjoyable too.

  4. jen says:

    Good points Karen. I don’t really understand how anyone who is a writer cannot be a reader also.

  5. Brad says:

    Great post!

    Funny, but much of what I blog about deals with writing (I actually deal more in fiction and poetry writing, but the mechanics are still the same). I’ve met a few people who call themselves “writers” who say they don’t read much. This never made sense to me.

    I wrote a post about this very topic back in December. While it’s mostly regarding writing fiction (I think Shakespear is in there as well), the basics hold true for any type of writing. Check it out at:

    http://bradsreader.blogspot.com/2006/12/writers-that-dont-read.html

    Sorry for the shameless self-promotion.

    (Note: The post was written on my older blog, I have since upgraded to a new platform w/ my own domain name.)

  6. Janet Majure says:

    As a longtime writer and editor, I entirely agree, Darren. Reading, writing and editing all inform one another. I’m hoping that my writing experience will help set my new blog apart from the crowd, but I know my ongoing reading (and exploring in other ways) is what will keep the content timely.

  7. Kelly Storm says:

    “Those of us (myself included) who have to pen words for dollars often lose sight of the reasons why we wanted to blog in the first place: for passion, pride, love, ambition.”

    I’ve always felt the same way with regards to programming – specifically software development. Too often have I seen people who have staggering levels of potential and talent sell their souls to corporate *whatever* just to make a salary $20-30k stronger.

    I’d love to see passionate people start putting their money where their mouth is, and everyone else simply become more passionate about what they do.

  8. Ryan Holiday says:

    Great post as usual.

    Aside from the actual knowledge benefits of reading, if you can become a trusted voice on good books, your site can turn regular profit off the recommendations.

    With Tucker Max’s propensity for reading, he sells a solid 2000 books a month across his network. That’s found money. Seriously.

  9. Jonathan-C. says:

    Yet another inspiring and meaningful post! It’s true that reading helps improve your writing. How can we write if we don’t read other peoples’ work or blog(s), or read books? When you aspire to become successful at something you have to learn the ropes, and that’s usually done by studying already successful people :)

  10. Thanks to all for your positive comments :)

  11. Quais Waseeq says:

    One of the most important things I notice/learn while reading is the different ways of using the same words. On most occasions we know most of the words we hear or read, but we can’t always put them together the same way in our own writings or speeches. That’s because we only know limited ways of using our vocabulary. Reading expands on that skill.

  12. Great post!

    The whole reason I came back to writing fiction was my English teacher suggesting I read more to build my vocabulary to sound smart in exams. She just awoke a muse that had been asleep for too long and look what she’s unleashed! :D

  13. CoversGirl says:

    Lately I’ve had the opposite problem – I’ve been so busy catching up on library books that I’ve hardly had time to blog!

  14. Paul says:

    An excellent post. I particularly agree with your statement about education being a commodity, it seems people are going to college to get the good job afterward, memorizing everything by rote and not retaining any of it. The result for me is I have to wade through a bunch of college grads, all of whom have excellent resumes, to find the one person who has learned something in college and can apply it to the job at hand.

    Hopefully more people will take it to heart.

  15. Matt Jones says:

    Interesting post. Your comment about what we learnt at school being lossed is very true for me especialy mid- A-levels!

  16. Dharmendra says:

    They say…read more , write less and that’ s what actually makes one more imaginative and creative with one’s blogs.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Great post. I’m a chronic reader, online and off, and it’s great for inspiration. I always have a lot of notes for ideas to develop at some point. I don’t even get to it all, but having partially developed ideas has always helped me to avoid writer’s block.

  18. Yes, and being a good writer can’t hurt when it comes to bringing in the dosh either :)

  19. marek says:

    Darren, I agree. I love reading. I like how you put it.
    The more we read the more we are prepared to write.
    We learn style by reading.
    We learn vocabulary by reading.
    We learn spelling by reading.
    Thank you.

  20. Scorp says:

    Hey Darren, why not do a post and tell your readers to submit 10 of their favourite blogs that’s got good writing on them?

  21. KWiz says:

    Hi Karen,
    Your post is great. I talked about this very topic today on my blog as well, but from a slightly different vantage point. If we don’t read, and read consistently, we will become much less critical in our thinking, and we truly will have nothing to say at all!

  22. Thanks again to you all for taking the time to comment. Glad you appreciated it

  23. cher says:

    Darren, You right ! Reading will help us more in writing better. It makes our work easier and pretty cool.

  24. cher says:

    Indeed it will also help in thinking creatively.

  25. DarrinW says:

    I used to be a very active reader, while all the guys around me played and partied or snoozed. I would read A-Z on just about anything. But of late my reading have been taking a backseat,.. hmmm, if only I could find the time, amidst all the stuff I do. Ahh, the joys of reading and blogging…

  26. vic says:

    Hey Darren, thanks for a good read. I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes when you blog, you don’t want to sound like a fool, so you’ll look up some information before you actually say it and you’re just more careful about what you post. Plus you try to write properly so you don’t come off as an idiot. A blog can share your thoughts, but it’s also a reflection of your education, like you said. Like that remark you made about learning and forgetting things in school, it’s true. Hopefully blogging won’t be like the term papers I wrote… you know everything there is to know about your topic and then it’s forgotten months later.

    What do you think about video blogging though? That seems to be something new with the blogging community.

    My own shameless plug: http://t1resource.blogspot.com

  27. michael says:

    I was planning to write similar post for my Blog Reviews blog. It is good I came across this post thought. I would not be able to write as good.