Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reading for Writing

Ever since I started writing, I have read that a writer reads, or should read. At first, I excused my lack of reading on several things.

1. There is no time for reading; I am writing. The excuse held water like a bucket without a bottom (not just a bucket with holes). After a while, I understood why there is an important need for a writer to read: to learn to write better. If we do not have time to read at least about writing, we have no time to write. Many successful authors recommend that any wannabe writer should read the genre that they are pursuing in their writing. Read to find out what is selling and while reading, learn by reading their styles: what made them successful?

2. Their style is their style; mine is mine. I feared accusations of stealing or copycatting because surely other’s influence would ruin my unique style. Now, I laugh at that because my style eight years ago could have used some strong influence. Reading a successful novelist does not mean their style is going to over-power you and wrestle your unique style away from you. Reading similar books to yours is not going to brainwash you or force you under their control. Read to learn from the masters. Many artists throughout history have studied the greats. Studying the greats is not the same as becoming so absorbed in the artist that you forget your own art. Learn, and then experiment.

If you ever get a severe case of writer’s block, try reading.

Reading inspires us.

Socrates said, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”

Reading opens up a whole new world to a writer. Let the greats take you for a long journey, and then inspire others by your great work.

Reading is also a great way to get away from editing and rewrites for a while – take a picnic lunch and head for the beach, lake, or park.

For some links to some great people who have books on writing, see the bulletin board on the left side bar to my blog. If you have any links to anyone you would recommend, please let me know.


  1. Nice post. I've certainly used all of these excuses at one time of the other. My personal cure is to only ever read books that I am unreasonably excited about, and to never fret if I can only manage 5 pages a day. Slow n' steady. It's how I write, and lately it's how I read.

  2. Thank you for dropping by for a visit, Neil.

    I checked out your blogspot and I like it - very interesting. I see you had some troubles when the gremlins ate posts. Guess they did a little burping the baby on blogspot.

    I am a slow reader as well. Seems I get more out of what I read that way.

    Have you ever experienced NaNoWriMo? That is one place that will set fires under your creative muse.

  3. I love reading. In fact, I never dreamed of writing until I had reading a bazillion books. Then I thought, "You know, that might be fun . . ."

  4. really shouldn't bother you to read or make time to read if the book you got is a scorcher. It's trying to find those books that can be challenging. I'm presently reading some "scorchers" in the Game of Thrones series. I just finished the huge 1300 page book one, self titled "Game of Thrones" last night. Gonna buy book two "A Clash of Kings" this evening after I workout at the gym. As for my work in progress...I poke on that about 1000 words a day and then stop. Usually takes less than an hour.

    Oh, I left you a blog award for your lovely blog here Lucinda. Stop by and claim it if you want it.

  5. Lucinda -- actually I've never done NaNoWriMo. It's not my sort of thing. I'm a quality not quantity sort, though I definitely think (based on the experience of some close friends) that as an exercise it has value. Personally, I have to write in a linear fashion, and I can't move on to the next chapter until the perfectionist in me is satisfied.

    This might explain why my latest novel has taken me three years to write, and is only just getting finished...

  6. @ VVDenman - Nice to see you come visit. I always like to write and now my editor's hat seems permanently attached to my head making me want to edit everything I read.

    @ Michael - thanks for dropping by again. You write 1000 words a day? That is a good pace. Lately, I have been so busy job searching that I mainly edit and rewrite unless the muse smacks me upside the head and makes me write new stuff.

    @ Neil - NaNoWriMo is fun and fast, but it is amazing how good we can write under pressure like that. The goal was 50,000 words in one month. I wrote 76,000 words and then in two months had the manuscript ready for querying agents. It helped me realize that I didn't have to be perfect on first draft, which was the way I tried to write initially. My first novel took 6 months to write and has turned into a four book series.

  7. @ Michael - where is that prize? On your blog? or is there a link tacked somewhere?

  8. Yeah you can copy the picture from the blog post for today onto your hard drive (right click to save as) and then upload it as a picture anywhere you want on your blog. I post all of my awards in a special page that I set up called "awards".

  9. Love this post. I have the same issues when it comes to reading. Looking forward to finishing my WiP soon so I can catch up on several reads.

  10. This is a very nice post. Michael is right about your post. I will get to the rest of the post later on. I read a lot but never used any of the tips from any book. I just have a need to write more like a sense of duty.

  11. The "anonymous" person is Munir from the Focus blog on my sidebar Lucinda. Blogger is having fits with internet explorer users. Everyone should switch over to Mozilla when trying to comment on blogs (make sure your cache is clear) too.

  12. It's me - Lucinda! I can't get past my sign-in. It takes me to the dashboard, but won't let me post using my sign-in. Poor blogspot is suffering ill health lately.

    For days now, I have tried to comment in response to all my company coming to visit. Michael, I tried FireFox and still have problems logging into my blog account. Plus, I emptied the cookie jar. Nothing works, but at least I see all of the responses now - yesterday the gremlin ate three responses.

    I checked with the blog doctor, but they are all frantically doing cpr and electric shocks to get it back among the living.

    @ David - thanks for dropping by. Glad you like my posts.

    @ Munir - I used to write to answer than deep inner duty calling as well. Then I started reading others war stories about the industry and realized they had some good advice. It helped me learn to write better and to edit better. Thanks for following Michael and thanks Michael for bring a friend.

  13. Hello Lucinda, I've tagged you on my blog to answer some internet meme questions. Please consider filling them out so I can know more about you :)