And now I myself am writing a post on how writers need to read.
Are you sick of it yet?
Firstly, this blog was not initially brought on by a desire to help nourish your writing abilities (although obviously I do want your writing to be nourished). Instead, it was brought on by SlushPile Hell's latest post, where the querying author did not carefully read what types of books the agent was looking for, so ended up sending him the exact opposite. So don't just read, but, when it comes to querying, read critically.
And to enhance what I mean by "read critically," I will draw on my education background. Obviously, "read critically" means pick up on the details, like whether the agent you're querying does or does not represent romance novels, but "read critically" also has a second meaning, at least from a writer's perspective. It means to read word-for-word. We know our books, we have shed sweat and tears over them. It is possible that I shed blood over some of my hard-to-write scenes. I know my book. I know what I mean. I know what those words are supposed to be and say.
But they aren't always what I think they are.
So if, as a writer, you're ever in doubt of whether or not that short story or novel is ready to be let out into the world, take this piece of advice: read your work out loud. It is the advice that I give to my students when they are writing a paper, and I am giving it to you now.
Yes, reading a 100,000 word novel out loud will take a long time and probably won't be a lot of fun, but I can guarantee that when you read that work out loud, you will automatically change the phrasing in some of your sentences. And I can almost guarantee that whatever you changed them to will be better than the original. How you speak is often more genuine than how you write, and when you're reading out loud you will often catch those typos, those repeated words, those awkward phrases that escaped you when you were writing and doing your initial revisions.
So before you let your masterpiece go to an agent, an editor, or to the press (real or of the self-publishing variety), take the time to read it out loud. It's critical.