For as long as I can remember, I’ve been told to read and read and read.

At first, I took that advice for granted. I was already reading news, books and magazines, but I didn’t think I need to read more than that.

I was wrong.

Read as much as you can, as often as you can. You will thank me later. It’s not just about being informed about what’s going on in the world, but it’s about getting your writing better.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not the best writer and I have a lot to work on, but I continue to learn new things each day about my writing.

Read your stories before and after they are edited.

I don’t do this for every story, but for the features or “big” news pieces it’s wise to see what corrections were made after you “submit” them. I have noticed that editors ask the obvious questions, but tend to change smaller details as they see fit without asking. It makes sense because it helps to not waste time. As a new reporter, I try to see what they change, so I can see what I can improve on. Sometimes it’s just being too wordy.

It’ll help you understand how your editor edits and what they look for.

Read your fellow reporter’s stories.

When I first started at the Chronicle, I was told to read everything on my beat. Being part-time, I ended up reading everything. I read the towns I was going to eventually cover and my new colleagues’ stories. It helped me understand the paper, what the issues were and how I should mold my writing.

I still read the paper everyday. I read each news story written by us, including the part-time reporter and freelancers. I do it to keep in the loop of what is going on.

Take this week for example, I’ve been covering some Windham stories, along with the part-time reporter, because our regular Windham reporter is away. I know the issues and what’s “hot” in the community because I kept up with the paper.

You never know when you will be asked to step out of your beat. It’s happened a couple of times to me.

Read other papers.

We won’t admit it, but reporters certainly check their competitors to see what they are doing. It’s like second nature, for me at least, to read up on what’s going on around the Chronicle’s beats. I have no problem admitting that, either. I retweet other papers and I certainly follow most of the papers in the state.

It’s not always about getting the scoop on others, though. I read my favorite reporters from other papers as much as I can. Reading the more experienced reporters helps me understand reporting better, whether it be how to phrase something or just seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

It really is a big help.

Don’t forget to read for fun.

I have about 35 books that I have been trying to read for the better part of year now. They range from “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King to a couple of books on journalism. My excuse has been I’m too busy, but that’s really not the case. I just have to sit down and read them.

Reading for fun is vital. I can’t stress enough how important it really. It helps to relax you and keeps you learning. With King, each page has me looking up words that I’ve never even heard of.

But no matter what type of reading you are doing, it will make you a better writer.


One Response to READ READ READ

  1. Pingback: Lead Writing 11 Months In « Just Starting Out

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