If You Want to Be a Prolific Writer, Become a Voracious Reader

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If you listed the habits of successful people, one that seems to emerge in nearly every book or article written about the subject is their reading habits. Nearly every person who has achieved anything of consequence is an avid reader.

  • If you look at many of the articles Benjamin P. Hardy writes, you’ll notice that he references the books he’s read.
  • In many of the articles I’ve published here on Medium, I’ve cited books that I’ve read.
If you want to be a prolific writer become a voracious reader.

So, why exactly is this a prerequisite for becoming a prolific writer?

1. Reading Helps You Come up with Ideas

By becoming a voracious reader, you build a massive database of ideas and insights that you can draw from. This is why I always read before I write

I could probably trace back nearly every idea I’ve had for an article, a section of a book or even an entire chapter to a book that I’ve read.

Ryan Holiday told me that the idea for The Obstacle is the Way was something he had years ago as a result of both reading and leveraging his notecard system. Several years later the book sold over 200,000 copies.

If creativity is about connecting dots, being a voracious reader gives you many more dots to work with.

2. Reading Trains Your Deep Work Muscle

Being a prolific writer requires deep work. And being a voracious reader is one really great way to train your deep work muscle. When you read a book, you have to be able to focus intensely on a cognitively demanding task for an extended period of time. Not only that, it helps to prime the pump and hack flow states on a daily basis. And that, in turn, translates to your writing.

3. Reading has a really high ROI

I’ve probably read more books in the last 7 years than I have in my entire formal education combined. And looking back I wish I had started sooner. I can point to direct changes in my actual income as a result of the books I’ve read.

For example, I learned about the idea of activation energy from Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage. Using that concept, I developed my habit of writing 1000 words a day. That habit eventually resulted in a book deal to write Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best.

And that’s just from one book. I’m sure I could find tangible ROIs from nearly every book I’ve read if I tried.

If there’s one piece of advice that I would give to anybody with aspirations to be a more prolific writer, it would be to become a voracious reader.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.


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