R is for Reading
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
― Stephen King
― Stephen King
Do you read? If you write for others, or aspire to, you should.
Reading is one of the main ways that we develop an ear for the poetry of language, an eye for description, a sense of timing and plot.
Yes, you can also learn about plot structure from watching movies. Especially if you first do a little research so that you know to look for: the inciting events, plot points, and set pieces. But as a writer, you learn so many different things from reading. You learn what you like and dislike. You discover what works and what doesn't. There are the books you read when you want to escape. Books you read to learn things. Books you read because the language takes our breath away. And if you are lucky to find one book or author that can do all three, well, you've won the jackpot. Study this author. See if you can figure out what makes her (or him) tick. What is it that mesmerizes you so? You can do it, too. Maybe not right away, but if you are persistent, eventually you will develop your own special voice. People will recognize it when they read your work. But as Stephen King says, we need to read and write a lot to be good writers.
Got kids? A second job? Have no time for the luxury of reading? I hear you. Modern life has us all plugged in, 24-7. It isn't easy to break the habit of checking email, texts, or Facebook all the time. And at the end of a long day, sinking into the couch to watch your favorite series or a great new movie can be so tempting. But all of these things take up a lot of time and energy, and don't enhance your writing skills the way that reading can.
Can you give up one hour a week to read instead of watching something? Or go to bed thirty minutes earlier? Give it a shot, see how it goes. You might just surprise yourself.
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."
"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx
Goodreads reading challenge