But first, a quip from Canadian icon, poet, and novelist Margaret Atwood:
“They [the book club members] are ready to reveal…their own reactions, their own biases and doubts and convictions, and above all their own tastes,” said Atwood. “The beauty of a book group for the members is that you don’t get passed or failed for your opinions.”
And the beauty of a book club for writers is what you can learn, learn, learn about readers and writing! If you’re looking for book ideas for your book club, click on The Readers’ Choice: 200 Book Club Favorites by Victoria Golden Mcmains. And, read on for my five ways a book club improves your writing skills…
5 Ways a Book Club Improves Your Writing Skills
I jotted the rough draft of this post during my book club the other night, while we discussed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It was a fabulous discussion (and an odd book) – and I realized that I’m almost as inspired to write by my book club as I am by my writer’s group!
Here’s why and how a book club can improve your writing:
1. A book club exposes you to books you’d never read. Murakami’s dream-like book about flow, self-identity, marriage, water, family relationships, sex, and fantasy isn’t something I’d read on my own. Without my book club, I’d never learn how this bestselling author handled complicated themes, characterization, plot, voice, tone, and symbolism! I also learned the importance of applying those techniques in a reader-friendly way – so readers “get it” without working too hard.
2. A book club encourages you to express your thoughts about reading and writing. Noticing a phrase or scene that works is one thing…but expressing why and how it works is another! Explaining why an author’s technique resonates improves your writing skills by fixing it more firmly in your mind. If you can describe why something works, you’ll implant it in your brain…and it’ll come out in your writing.
3. A book club lets you crack readers’ minds. I love hearing why my fellow readers loved or hated a book – or couldn’t care less by it. I’ve learned that the same book can evoke totally different reactions in readers, and that writing skill can take a back seat to strong characterization. Listening to book club members talk can improve your writing skills by letting you be a fly on the wall, listening to experienced readers share their opinions.
4. A book club energizes and inspires you. It took me two years to develop the habit of taking notes during my book club meetings. I’m an observer, and I love watching and listening closely to my fellow readers’ actions, ways of speaking, interactions, personal styles. Now that I bring my notebook to every meeting, I’m jotting ideas and information for blog posts, articles, and even books! I’m not just improving my writing skill, I’m exercising my creative muscles.
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5. A book club shows you what readers want to know about writers. I actually belong to two book clubs, and I’m fascinated by my fellow readers’ fascination about writers’ lives! One of my clubs invited a guest author, and the house was packed. We were hungry for every detail of her life – but she took up far too much time reading out of her book. We’d already read the book….we wanted her! This experience may not improve my writing skills, but it’ll help me be a better guest author one day.
Do you belong to a book club – and has it affected your writing skills? If you don’t belong to one yet, and would like me to write a “how to start a book club” post – just ask! I can do it in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. 🙂