Read Read Read

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Are you a reader?
About a year ago I ran a few polls on a couple of writing sites that pertained to reading habits. I won’t mention the name of the sites, but I will say that they are reputable freelance writing sites where I have come to know some great writers, some good writers, and some who do it as just a hobby. And this is not to say that even if you are doing it as a hobby that you can’t be a great writer.

My polls asked the participant what they did most: read or write. I also asked about how much and how often the reading and writing was done, and I asked about individual favorites such as your favorite top 10 books.

What? You don’t read?
I had some great fun and insight with the polls. I was inspired to read a couple of different books through recommendations that were inspiring and I gave some recommendations as well from which I have received good feedback. All in all the polls were profitable and I gleaned some interesting information, but there was one thing I came away with that I was not expecting; the revelation that some of the folks whose work I had read were not readers.

Yes, it’s true. There weren’t many—only a handful out of a few dozen responses—but there were a few who said they either hardly ever read or that they never read at all. I was surprised by these comments. I could understand loving to read but having no desire to write, but it never entered my mind that someone could love to write and yet not be a reader. How is this possible? Wouldn’t that be kind of like joining a yacht club but hating being on the water?

Inspiration
Let me pause a second and say it is not my intention to ridicule anyone. What I’m hoping to do is inspire anyone who might be in the category I mentioned above.

Personally, I read for two reasons, and fortunately I enjoy them both. For me, reading is wonderful entertainment—more so than movies or television could ever be—but it is also educational.
Reading is schooling even when you are not in school. I could write an entirely separate blog on the benefits of reading when it comes to learning, but the educational part I want to focus on is that part that will help the aspiring writer. I don’t care how many creative writing classes you’ve taken, how many writing tutorials, writing groups, or instruction you have received, none of it can come close to the knowledge you will get from reading.

If you don’t believe me…
“Writing is a difficult trade which must be learned slowly by reading great authors; by trying at the outset to imitate them; by daring them to be original and by destroying one’s first productions.” ~Andre’ Maurois~

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” ~Stephen King~

 

The End—or—Happily Ever After?
And that is a question only I can answer, and I can only answer it through the countless journeys I have concluded at the end of a tale. Without having read, how would I know how to wrap up a story? How could I pull you in with a captivating beginning; hold you in with a meaningful middle?

So far, I have read 17 books this year by the likes of, Ray Bradbury, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Harper Lee, and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. I can’t imagine an existence in which I never had the pleasure of meeting Scout Finch, The Great Gatsby or Roland Deschain. And I certainly can’t imagine how I could create a story as I write my novel without having first immersed myself in other stories of literature.

If you write for the fun of it, if it is something you do as a hobby, then by all means, enjoy yourself. If you don’t like to read—that’s your loss. But I would like to emphasize that if you have any aspiration to be a serious writer, you must read! If you intend to spend an hour writing—spend an hour reading as well. It will increase the quality of your work and make it much more desirable for a reader. And isn’t that why you write?

Top 10
Since I began this blog referring to a poll I took I am going to list 10 of the best books I have read. Some of them are classics and some of them just happened to tickle my fancy. Either way, there are books on this list that if read can and will make you a better writer.
(Some of these are series but I will list them as one)
1 Lord of the Rings Trilogy
2 To Kill a Mockingbird
3 Grapes of Wrath
4 The Dark Tower Series
5 Crime and Punishment
6 Lolita
7 The Exorcist
8 The Shining
9 The Once and Future King
10 Silence of the Lambs
Honorable Mention: Every other Stephen King book not listed here.

This has been the written opinion of a reader.

Until we meet again, Wayne.


Comments

Read Read Read — 13 Comments

  1. Interestingly, I have read all the books on your list. I can’t remember not reading, Wayne. I currently read two books each week, and I want more. A writer who does not read? I simply can’t imagine it. Great post.

    • I agree, Bill. It’s actually very difficult to list the top ten. I had about a hundred books go through my mind.And how anyone could even attempt to write without having read at least a few of those is beyond me.

  2. Very interesting post. I had no idea there were writers out there who don’t read. Reading to be a better writer is like having to eat ice cream (or cheesecake) to be a better cook! Pure pleasure! I just received notice that my copy of American Gods is in so I’m looking forward to it.

    • Hi Alexandra. i had no idea either and was surprised to see the comments from people on a writing site who said they did not read. I will be looking forward to your take on American Gods.

  3. I wish i was better at time management and could read more, but – i promise i used to read a TON..lol..
    Great post Wayne. I agree – there’s no way to write without having read – and read a LOT! x

    • Karen, I know what you mean. There are just not enough hours in the day. There have been times when it has literally taken me months just to get through one book. You can’t really force yourself when those dry spells come, you just keep on trucking through a page a day if you have to and the hunger always returns. It seems like since I have been writing more this last couple years that my hunger for reading has gone through the roof…and that’s a good thing. A book is like a dear friend that has never abandoned me, and I love having it around.

  4. Wayne what an interesting post, I read volumes when I was in my teens up until my early adult, then I let life get in the way and put aside reading time to spending too much time making a career, raising a family and other life matters. It;s not until the last 5 years that reading has captured my interest again. I am thankful for what I have read in the past, it certainly helped inspire me to be creative in my poetry. I am no trying to read a couple of books a month, Stephen King has certainly captured my attention and like you I’ve read The Shining and am a quarter of a way into Dr Keep. Reading takes us into another world, we get lost and absorbed into it. I am totally relaxed when reading and a great tonic to fall asleep too. No need for sleeping pills. ha ha.

    • Vincent, I was the same way. When I hit my teens my reading skyrocketed. I’m glad it did because like you, when life interrupted me at different junctures, no matter what was going on I always had the experience within me of knowing what I could get from the stories as well as leaning on the ones I had read and still held inside. And yes, they are a great sleep tonic…except for those times when you want to sleep but the story is so damn good you can’t put it down. I have opened books intending to read and after a page nodded off, and then there have been plenty of times where I just wanted to read a couple of pages before going to sleep, and the next thing I know I am 50 pages in and wide awake!

  5. Wayne, I’ve always been a reader. I think that’s what led me to be a writer. Writing without reading? That simply makes no sense at all.

    I recently finished Dean Koontz’ Innocence. Fantastic read, but I’m a bit biased. Koontz is my favorite author. Currently I’m reading a novel by a new author, Jon McGoran, called Drift. Awesome book and I highly recommend it. As soon as I finish it, next in line is Bill’s latest novel Resurrecting Tobias. If it’s half as good as his first novel, I know it’ll be a real page turner and I won’t want to put it down.

    Now, I’ve got some writing to do. Catch you on the flip side!

    • Hi, Sha. I have Bill’s new book as well and am also just trying to finish the one I am reading before starting his. I have read several of Koontz book, and I will have to look into McGoran. I am always up for discovering authors I have not read.

  6. I love that you used the Stephen King quote. I don’t understand how people can be writers but don’t read. Not only is reading enjoyable, but it expands your knowledge of writing, and gives many examples of successful writing.

    • Thanks Beth. Thinking about discussing books last night brought back memories when me and mom used to talk for hour about books. I realize it has passed on and I imagined you doing the same thing with Dominic in the future.

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