Read everything

by David Harris on October 22, 2010

If you want to communicate with your audience on their terms, you have to understand the context in which they are getting information. That means consuming information in the various ways that they get information. But because you have a diverse audience, the only solution is to read everything.

Of course, you can’t read absolutely everything, but you need to be reading with enough variety to sample the kinds of things that are popular and part of the cultural zeitgeist. You might not NEED to know what happened to those over-exposed vampires, or the child wizards, or the celebrity gossip on what passes for mainstream journalism these days, but it will help you write in a way that your audience is used to relating to.

You don’t need to know all the information contained in that reading. It is more important to read it for tone and style so that you can be conversant in it. Of course, you also need to read classics, fiction of all types, non-fiction of all types, and it certainly won’t hurt to dip into some poetry on occasion.

Perhaps you’ll try out some of these styles at times, or perhaps your writing toolkit will expand in response. Just make sure that you spend a little time thinking about how all these different styles work and see whether you can learn a trick or two from them.

The way to write better is to read more and more widely. The way to connect with your audience better is to be able to speak in a language that they can respond to on an intuitive level.

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