How to Read Like a Writer (And Why You Should Do It)

How to Read Like a Writer

While reading is a great pass time activity which has a plethora of benefits even when we do it for recreational purposes, it can also be an incredibly powerful self-improvement tool. 

There are many ways in which reading can be used to sharpen your mental abilities and one of them is to try to put yourself in the author’s shoes. Learning how to read like a writer can be a rather difficult and resource-heavy process, but the benefits are well worthy of the effort. 

First, let’s clarify a couple of things.

What Does It Mean to Read as a Writer?

Reading like a writer is a type of active reading which involves a much higher degree of engagement from the reader, with a focus being placed on writing techniques, the author’s intentions and general purpose of the book or piece of writing. 

Through this technique, the reader can gain a better understanding of the process behind the creation of a book, and get a much clearer picture of the facts that are being presented. 

Why Should You Read Like a Writer?

Now that we have defined to a certain extent the act of reading like a writer and before going into more depth about the process, let’s see why you should at least sometimes include this technique in your reading habits.

1. It Strengthens Your Brain

Reading as a writer is a complex mental process in which several areas of the brain are involved. As we all know, our brains and muscles have something in common: the fact that exercise is good for them. 

Similar to regular training sessions at the gym, a good session of active reading from time to time keeps our brain in good shape. Reading forces our brain to create new connections and strengthens the already existing ones. 

When we read like a writer and try to understand the text on a deeper level, we include more parts of the brain in this process, the effect being similar to a full-body workout: simply more of our brain is involved in this so-called training

2. It Helps You Better Understand and Remember What You Read

When we read like a writer, we pay attention to a lot more details than we normally do. Reading like a writer involves, amongst other things, a lot of inevitable re-reading. Because we attempt to gain a better understanding of the text, we cannot afford to remain confused about the meaning of a certain paragraph hoping we will later understand what the author meant as the story develops.

Reading with a clear intention of deciphering the text in a way that allows us to go beyond the written words and understanding their meaning and purpose forces us to allow a lot less information to be filtered out. 

Because we involve our own mental process in the action of reading, more neural connections are being created, thus more information is being stored in our long term memory. 

3. It Improves Your Persuasion Techniques

When you think about it, every book that has ever been written and read constitutes a battle in itself. The author is either fighting to keep you engaged, drawing you in with a series of techniques meant to keep you focused on the story that is being presented or fighting to convince you that the ideas on which the book is based are correct.

Since a lot of persuasion is involved in writing a book, a good writer will need to be quite familiar with different persuasion techniques that he or she will use throughout each book in order to keep readers interested and to convince them that the general idea of the book is correct.

While reading like a writer, you can pick up on some of these techniques. Pay close attention to how an author supports an idea, or even how a character is trying to persuade others throughout the book. Since our whole life is based on a series of requests, knowing how to persuade others to honor your requests is a vital skill to have. 

4. Become More Familiar With Different Writing Styles

I am sure you noticed how some writers can easily be recognized thanks to their specific writing style. Just like a singer’s voice, the writing style is what sets some authors apart from the rest of them. 

The more you read, the easier it will be for you to be able to recognize certain writers and the more attention you pay to how writers express their thoughts, the easier it will be for you to find your own style if you decide to start writing. Pay attention to how they formulate their ideas, how they construct their sentences, their paragraphs, their chapters and ultimately their books. 

5. Be a Better Writer

Last but not least, learning how to read like a writer can lead the way to you becoming a better writer yourself. If you’ve had several attempts at writing a story, an essay or even a novel and you’re thinking of giving it another shot, one of the best ways to prepare for it is to read like a writer.

There’s a lot to be learnt from the way successful authors compose their stories, and by paying close attention to the technical details of their writing and trying to reproduce them, you can become successful as well.

How to Read Like a Writer?

Now that you know what reading like a writer means and how it can benefit you, if you’ve decided it’s something you would like to try, you might need some pointers. While learning how to read like a writer and putting it into practice can be challenging, the good news is that with the right tools and a little determination, it can be achieved by all of us. Here’s how.

1. Engage in Active Reading

As mentioned before, active reading is the act of reading something with a clear intent of understanding and remembering all the information contained by the text. Active reading involves a greater degree of involvement and usually means taking notes, annotating the books you read, doing separate research on the topics you’re reading about.

As an aspiring amateur author or simply a person who wants to read like a writer, you should always be reading actively. While reading for pleasure does have quite a big series of benefits, if you want to get the most out of your reading experience, active reading is the way to go.

Active reading and reading like a writer both mean that you leave “no stone unturned” while going through a text, so it makes perfect sense that one cannot exist without the other.

2. Take Notes While Reading

Taking notes as you read is essential whenever you want to better understand and remember certain details from the text you’re going through. 

Reading and writing activate completely different parts of the brain. That means that whenever we write about the things you read, involving bigger portions of your brain in the process, you are more likely to better understand and remember what you read. 

Even though taking notes is quite easy to do, the even better news is that reading tracking apps can actually make it even easier and more effective.

Basmo, for example, gives its users the option to write notes while reading. 

Being able to write your thoughts on your mobile device in a dedicated reading app has many obvious benefits, including the fact that you won’t lose your notes, you won’t need anything else than your phone and also, that you can format and organize them quickly and easily.

To take notes while reading with Basmo, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Open the app.
  2. Select the book you are reading from the list or search for it if it isn’t already added to your home screen.
  3. Start a reading session.
  4. While your reading session is ongoing, you can simply simply start typing and add your notes.

3. Read When You’re Awake, Not Before Going to Bed

Whenever you want to make the most out of your reading experience, it’s a good idea to read during the day when you’re well rested instead of reading at night before falling asleep.

In order to really read like a writer and to be able to analyze the text, you will need to pay close attention to what you read. To achieve the best results, you will need to be in an optimum mental state. 

Reading before bed does have certain benefits, but is clearly not the best way to go when it comes to active reading. You might want to set a daily reading schedule so you no longer end up reading before going to bed, and luckily reading apps can be of great help with that.

Basmo can be used to set a reading schedule and it also uses notifications to remind you of upcoming reading sessions.

Here’s how you can set this up within the app:

  1. Access the app on your phone or tablet.
  2. Tap on the book you’re reading, directly on the home screen within the app.
  3. Once the dedicated screen for the book opens, tap on Schedule reading.
  4. You will need to select at least three days of the week for setting your schedule and reminders.
  5. Tap on one of the days and you will be prompted to select the time of day you want to set the reminder. Tap Done when you’re happy with your choice.
  6. Repeat the same action for another two days of the week.
  7. Tap on Set Reminders and you are done, your phone or tablet will notify you of your upcoming scheduled reading sessions.

4. Ask Questions and Try to Find the Answers by Doing Separate Research

Understanding everything a writer is trying to say in a book is no easy task. While reading actively, chances are that you won’t be able to immediately understand all the words that are used, all the references made or all the ideas the writer presents.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions and do proper research on any unfamiliar topic that arises while you read like a writer. Look up historic events that are being referenced, try to find explanations for the words you don’t understand. Only by analyzing the text piece by piece will you be able to really understand it on a deep level.

5. Reread Books You Love or Find Particularly Interesting

As much as you would try to analyze a book to its very core, there are certain novels which are harder to crack than others. Particularly big novels or those that are harder to read won’t reveal all their secrets on your first attempt at analyzing them.

There’s no shame in reading a particularly difficult book more than once. On top of the fact that you might understand it better on your second read, there’s a chance you will have a completely different view on the text, especially if enough time passes between your first and second attempt at reading it.

6. Read Different Genres

Reading different genres, even some that are not usually your cup of tea is quite similar to the gastronomical expansion of the palate. Don’t be afraid to try new things and always keep an open mind. 

Reading different genres is essential for your self-development, regardless of whether you’re aspiring to become a writer or not. By not limiting yourself to just your favorite genre and going outside of your comfort zone, you will gain a much better understanding of the writing phenomenon.

And in order to make sure you keep the promise you’re making yourself to read different genres, it can’t hurt to have a little bit of help from reading apps.

7. Finish Books Even if You Don’t Like Them

If you want to read like a writer, there’s a couple of small sacrifices you will have to make. One of them is that you won’t have the luxury of being able to simply stop reading a book you don’t like.

Real self-improvement takes effort and dedication, which means that even if there are sections or entire books you don’t enjoy reading, you should just power through and learn as much as possible from them. Pretty much any book contains lessons that are worth learning.

8. Track Your Progress, Keep a Reading Journal

Part of being a writer or even reading like a writer is being organized. A good writer has an impeccable work ethic and good discipline.

So that’s something you will need to apply yourself and you should be aware of the fact discipline is not an easy skill to acquire. It takes practice and determination.

A good place to start your journey of becoming better organized and more disciplined when it comes to reading (and writing) is to always be aware of your goals and your progress towards achieving them.

Luckily for you, Basmo is an amazing tool for readers who are looking to improve themselves and become more focused, more organized and goal-oriented.

You can use the app to set daily or yearly reading goals, track your progress while reading a book and even keep a reading journal where you can add your personal views about what you’re reading, how you feel about certain books and any other information you think is important.

9. Analyze the Book You’re Reading and Write About It Once You’ve Finished It

Part of reading like a writer, apart from all of the things I mentioned above, is to be opinionated. Don’t be afraid to have your own thoughts about what you read, you are entitled to your own opinion, regardless of the respect you have for the author.

Allow yourself to criticize, even though you may not feel it’s your place to do so, and write down your thoughts. Even though you’re not writing an official book review that will be read by anyone else, the simple act of putting your thoughts and views about a book in a text will be a valuable process for your development.

10. Pay Attention to the Details

How the story is constructed, the writing style. Analyze everything and leave no stone unturned while reading a book if you want to learn how to read like a writer. 

Pay close attention to the writing style, how the author builds up tension in certain parts of the novel, how the plot twists are implemented in the story and what their role is for the final result.

11. See the Big Picture

Analyze the book as a whole after you finished reading it. A pretty costly mistake you need to be careful to avoid is to get so entangled in the details of a book that you forget about the picture.

After reading a book, take an imaginary step back and try to analyze it as a whole. What’s the overall feeling you are left with after reading it? What made you feel that way? What was your favorite part and your least favorite part? Why?

All these are questions you will need to find answers for once you’ve finished reading and analyzing a book. 


As you can see, reading like a writer is not exactly an easy task. Whether it’s worth including this into your reading habits is up to you and your personal goals, but there are certainly quite a lot of benefits you can enjoy if you decide to do it.

And luckily, you have a very powerful and effective tool at your disposal if you decide to start using Basmo.

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