Thursday, June 11, 2015

On Reading and the Writer

One piece of advice writers hear a lot is that to be a writer, you also need to be a reader.

This is so true. However, I've heard a number of people say they want to write a book, but in the next breath say they don't read much, if anything. "I'm not really a reader," they say.

The way I see it is that if you read a lot, the rhythm of words becomes imprinted on your brain. The music of sentences, the symphony of paragraph after paragraph, page after page gets embedded in your skull. You subconsciously get the structure of the written word locked into your soul. Can you dig it?

When I've read the work of someone who doesn't read, I can tell right away.

Reading a lot makes writing a lot easier. Simple as that, as the King says.

So, read lean and mean prose like Hemingway.

Read challenging work, like Malcolm Lowry or Faulkner.

Read poetry.

Read plays. Hell, one of the best classes I took in college focused on the plays of Sam Shepard. Though it wasn't a writing class, I learned more about writing in that classroom - the possibilities of it - than in any of my actual writing classes.

Read classics.

Read contemporary novels.

Read short stories.

And fer chrissakes, read for the pure joy of it. Because reading should be a joy.

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