There are no shortcuts you can take to become a better writer.
Sure, you can learn different hacks, tips, and tricks to improve your prose. But the process of developing your ability as a writer is a marathon—not a sprint.
Now, I don’t claim to be a master of the English language, and I don’t possess a degree in literature. If anything, I have a difficult time parsing sentences, and I don’t know a lot of technical jargon, like, “What is a predicate?”
I have a tremendous fear of writing. I have to punch fear in the face every time I sit down to write anything, and I mean anything—including a tweet. But over the years, I’ve been able to slowly improve my writing by accidentally embracing Stephen King’s advice, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
So, here’s the deal: If you want to become a better writer, you need to become a voracious reader. You see, attempting to write without avidly reading is like trying to pull water from a dried-up well. There’s nothing there.
If you want to write anything—whether it’s a Facebook update, blog post, or book—you need to have a storehouse of words to pull from. You need to have in your possession a robust vocabulary, stories to help you illustrate your point, and the only way you can build such a repertoire is by reading.
Filling yourself up with words is the best way for you to fuel your writing. From books, magazines, long-form journalism, blog posts, and everything in between, reading will help you develop your skills as a writer.
Before you go off and pick up a random book from your shelf or Kindle, there’s a method you need to go about your reading. Reading, in general, is helpful, but if you want to become the best possible writer you can, you want to have a plan in place. Here are five steps to help you get started.