Dec. 26, 2021: Why Writers MUST be Readers!
My To Be Read pile of books is now replenished, thanks to holiday gifts! And as 2021 winds down, I am happy to reflect on the fact that I more than met my reading goal for this year. My goal was to read 25 books and I just finished book #39! The fact that I have a full-time teaching job, am a part-time professor at the local university, and am an author, finding time to read is not easy. But it is definitely worth the trouble to find the time to read.
I am always amazed (and a little horrified) when I hear fellow writers say that they really don’t read. After all, books are our business. They are our work! You can’t really have one without the other. While there are countless reasons, many of them very reasonable, that finding time to read is a challenge, there are even more reasons why, as writers, reading needs to be a priority.
Reasons Writers Must be Readers:
- The more you read the more you know. Simple as that. Whether you are reading nonfiction, biographies, or any type of fictional genre, every time you read, your pool of knowledge grows a bit. It might be specific content knowledge, historical knowledge, or even just tidbits of information on story elements. Each time you read a book, those words, sentences, thoughts, impressions, and ideas are now part of your experience. They are now part of the background upon which writers draw from when doing pour own work.
- You gain a great appreciation for quality writing and become disgusted with poor writing. This translates into your own craft becoming stronger. When you read widely, you will become much more skilled in noticing literary techniques and quality craft. It may be consciously or subconsciously. You will also gain insight into how, why, and when writers successfully use these things. This awareness is the critical in being able to do the same things in our own work.
- You are in tune with publishing trends and what is out there, both in general and in your own genre. This is huge! When submitting your work to agents and publishers, there are always the questions about comparatives. If you are not widely read, you have no idea how your work compares to what it out there. A writer who can competently refer to other works when pitching their own, gets noticed.
- You will better understand writing style and voice. As you read, whether you want to or not, your writer’s brain will be absorbing and critiquing the style and voice of the author of the book you are reading. This allows you to make decisions about your own approach to telling the stories you want to tell. It will help you build on your own style, and perhaps even challenge you to try something outside of your comfort zone.
As Stephen King once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”