As designers and artists we need a consistent creative drive that allows us to put out our dankest work.

I don’t usually read fiction. Most of the time I focus on reading about design or personal development.

My thoughts are, “If I’m not learning something while reading I’m wasting my time. The only reason I’d read fiction is for entertainment.”

Maybe you’re in the same boat right now.

I recently realized I was missing out on a simple tool for facilitating creativity.

How I Realized Fiction is a Creativity Booster

I spontaneously grew an interest in the book Dune by Frank Herbert after watching a comedic summary video(spoilers).

The video showed me how vast the universe Frank Herbert designed was. I couldn’t believe one person was behind it. I had to read it.

Thankfully my brother was in the room while I was watching it. He looked over and said, “Hey, I own that book!” So I made him grab it for me and began reading that night.

I switched things up and gave my mind a break. To let it wander in a universe created and directed by an author where minimal critical thinking was required.

Dune is now my favorite book of all time.

I felt free. I could become the characters for a moment and feel their emotions, experience their actions.

I could sulk.

Lead the native rebel race to retake the land that was rightfully ours.

Even become the egomaniac leader who wanted it all.

I experienced a vicarious side of me that I never realized existed.

Creative Benefits of Reading Fiction

That’s all good and fun but how does it benefit your creativity?

1. Reading Fiction Helps You Generate Unique Ideas

Think about your recent ideas and designs. Have you been rushing to create any simple solutions? You might be searching for cognitive closure.

Those with a strong need for closure often become less rational when making decisions.

As designers, there is no room for making predictable decisions. We have to think in ways others have never even imagined.

As I illustrated above, fiction acts as a real-world simulation. You can relate to the situations and empathize with the characters of the story.

This reduces the need for cognitive closure allowing you to think critically about your projects and the problems you’re attempting to solve.

2. Fiction authors are experts in delivering messages

Through creative story-telling authors make it easy to become attached to the characters and situations.

I’ve found that ideas and concepts stick more prominently when reading fiction compared to non-fiction. I can look back and still remember details about Dune.

It was more impactful than any non-fiction I’ve ever read. After all, the most well-known authors write fiction.

The best fiction authors can teach us how to best deliver content to our users. By helping us decide what’s most important to show our users we can make our designs more effective and useful.

3. Reading fiction improves your vocabulary

Writing fiction requires the ability to describe the story with succinct detail.

Every book I read has words that I’ve never used before so I look them up. I write them and their definitions in my notebook so I can learn and remember them.

As someone who desires the ability to express my thoughts and emotions, this is invaluable. I hate the idea of not understanding how to express myself beyond common words.

The fact is, even as a designer we need to know how to communicate. Whether you’re standing in front of an audience, stakeholders, or a computer screen it’s important to get your thoughts across with purpose.

It’s Okay to Take a Break From Non-Fiction Once and a While

Reading non-fiction is useful up until a certain point. True creativity requires the ability to access thoughts and ideas that may not seem logical to others.

When you allow your mind to freely roam you’ll find that you can make sudden connections and relationships you never imagined.

While reading non-fiction is great for self improvement, fiction is a tool you can use to give your brain a chance to explore unknown territory. That is where truly amazing ideas are born.