Why Writers Should Always Read Twice

reading in library

There’s nothing like opening a new book and turning the page in suspense. What might happen next? Creative writing is exciting to read as a consumer. That's what we do first: consume.

The First Reading

The first reading happens through our eyes (and sometimes ears). 
We are keeping pace with the story, wondering what events will unfold.

In a compelling tale, the reader speculates on how the story will turn out, and reaches a point, usually late in the narrative, where they become sure of the outcome.

Now Read Again

The second reading is what turns us from consumers into writing analysts. This is especially important when reading in English, which might not be your first language. 

The second reading comes from the mind — the memory, to be precise. The purpose is not to understand exactly what happened and in what order. Instead, the reader speculates on what it all means and, if you are a writer, how the author tells the story. 

Even if you think a book is not great, there's a lot you can learn from analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the prose.


How reading twice helps you become a better writer

Appreciation of Language

In good books we always find passages that are worth reading twice. Sometimes we pause and reread them before moving on. If we go back to them later, we can savour them without the rush that made us turn the page the first time.

Increasing Your Patience

One of the big forces that drives our life is curiosity. On the second reading, there’s less curiosity, assuming you still remember what the book’s about. With that curiosity toned down, you may have to make more of an effort to turn the pages. When you do this, you automatically develop your patience little by little.

Mining Your Memory

Our memories need repetition to recall text-based information. For most of the books we read just once, we forget the characters and even most of the action, to say nothing of the style. But when we go back to them, it’s like treading a path we’ve already walked. 

Remembering a great text will give you a richer understanding and you'll be able to discuss it in more detail.

reading text

Better Editing of English Text

The second time we read, we pay more attention to the syntax, style, structure and diction. You can use a pen to highlight passages. Make notes. 

This technical analysis will help you edit your own work more effectively.

Ownership of English

Only a chosen few books get pride of place on our bookshelf. If you are proud of reading books in English, you might recommend to friends and family. 

These books become emotional and intellectual extensions of ourselves. These are the books we read twice or more.


Next time you are rushing through a book, eager to consume its wisdom, consider slowing down. The next time you reach for a new text, consider reading something old. Something familiar. Pick up your pen and get ready to take notes. 

If you are an international publishing professional who writes in English, the benefits of a second reading may surprise you.


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