Writing tip: If you read and write for work, read for pleasure too

You may wonder why we sometimes mention fiction on this business blog.

Simple. If you write at work, you need to write clearly and efficiently, and reading is essential for honing any writer's skills and sensitivities.

Stephen King said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write." He was talking to so-called creative writers, but the same rule applies to everyone who writes at work.

OK, I know, you read heaps every day at work. RFPs, proposals, emails, letters, newsletters, tweets, blogs, policy, procedures and Cabinet papers. And scholarly articles, contracts, news items, financial reports, annual reports, guidelines and regulations—of course you do.

All this reading heightens your awareness of what kind of writing works for each kind of document. You can't help absorbing some rules of thumb. For example, if you loathe long wordy reports, you'll probably try to make yours short and succinct.

However, reading for pleasure will help you to raise your sights and raise your game.

That doesn't mean you should treat fun-reading as earnest professional development. Sure, you might learn some tricks. For example, you might think, "Hm, Love the first chapter—why?" Or "I skipped that paragraph—why?"

But it would be a sad day when the critical faculty dominates as you relax on Boxing Day with Hot Rod magazine or the latest Booker Prize winner.

Just read whatever you like and plenty of it. Leave analysis at the office and soak up words words words. On Kindle, iPad or paper, listen to the story. After months of buttoning words into business suits, it's time to wallow in the simple magic of reading for pleasure. Remember that?

Enjoy the holidays. See you next year!

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