The Importance of Reading

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Discussions, On Books, On Writing
Tags: ,

It’s easy to lose yourself and your personal time with these hectic times we live in. Everything’s rushed, and we are apt to cram our schedules full of things that could, quite frankly, be put off for another day. I am not saying its best to procrastinate, but it’s important to make time for yourself.

When was the last time you sat down and read a really good book? As a writer, my answer to this question is pretty sad. I don’t think I’ve finished reading a book in months. It’s most important for a writer to be constantly reading. It helps to give you inspiration, it shows you different styles and voice, it shows you what works and what doesn’t. Think of reading as a type of research. The more you read the easier you will be able to recognize other writers’ mistakes and correct them in your own work. However we don’t read simply to notice what others are doing wrong. It’s also helpful to look at what they’re doing right, what grabbed you. Take a few minutes after reading to think about the strengths in what you just read. Colorful character development, excuisite settings, bold dialogue, all these things and more can be used to your advantage.

When was the last time you read a bad book? This is helpful to the writer as well. Think of the last book you read that left you feeling unfulfilled, dissatisfied. What factors made you feel this way? Was it lack of character development? Was it a poorly flowing story line? Generally it’s much easier for a reader to find the weak points in a story than the writer, which is why this is helpful, and why it’s so important for you, as a writer, to have others read your work.

Here’s a good exercise for writers: Find a great book, short story, or article you really enjoyed. Take a moment to think about what you enjoyed so much about it. If part of what grabbed you was the setting, write your own story with a similar setting. Or if it was the characters that sparked your intrigue, use that character’s traits to create a work of your own. Or if it was the story line that interested you, use it, along with your own twists, experiences, and ideas to create something that has a similar feel. You may find yourself quite pleased with the results.

Overall, reading is important to everyone and anyone(or it should be). Reading helps to expand the imagination, and for the writer, helps show how the use of different words, settings, and characters can evoke different feelings and tones. It helps us to experience things through someone else, whether it’s a fictional character, or someone who actually walked this earth. By reading, you are setting your mind free to the realm of possibility, a place where most fiction writers want to be. So next time you’re wolfing down your lunch so you can scramble back to work, or gearing up to do housework, stop for a second, use your lunch break to relax, those chores can wait too, and just read.

Note to Readers: I will also add this to my “Writing Tips & Tricks” page. I feel it deserves an honorable mention for every beginning writer.

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