When it comes to wannabe-writers and reading, Stephen King tells us there is a magic moment, and this is true (even for SEO writers). There is a single intoxicating instant that only readers are privy to, and it comes when you lay down the book, shake your head with wonder, and mutter:
“This guy SUCKS. I Can write better than this!”
It’s that moment that helps you break through writers block and become stronger in your own work. It’s that moment that lets you start blogging with confidence and allows you to promote your business in a powerfully organic way.
It’s a moment you only get to have if you read prolifically.
The fact is that writers MUST be readers. How else are you going to expand your own knowledge? Nothing grows in a vacuum. If you claim that you don’t have time to read, well, you probably don’t have time to write either.
What should you read? It’s a fair question, and my answer is everything you can get your hands on. Sure, you want to write for marketing, but don’t limit yourself to just marketing and self-help material. The 7 Habits are all good habits, they are fine habits, but you aren’t going to build a unique voice by reading that and Who Moved My Cheese. Do you really want to be just another suited chump in the airport lounge?
Read blogs by people in your industry. Even the bad ones. ESPECIALLY the bad ones. Read marketing books written this week and read marketing books written a decade ago. Read the biographies of pioneers in your industry, and read books about pioneers in general. Read books about aliens, ninjas and wizards. Expand your literary horizons and watch writers block fade away, replaced with a deep well of influence and allusion to draw from. You may not think Gandalf can help you with your blog about widgets, but really, there’s nothing that guy can’t do. I mean, he beat the Balrog, right?
Go read and read and read until finally you hit that moment when you KNOW you can do better.
Then, go write.
(P.S. If this blog is the one that you think sucks, please don’t tell me. We’re buddies, right?)