Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reading will make you a better writer...right?

Today I want to talk about reading. I. Love. To. Read. I really do. This past week, while on a road trip, I read/finished four books. I enjoyed three of them and wondered if some day I would really learn the craft of writing to take someone's breath away.  (My reviews are on The Book Addict).

I began reading in first grade. As soon words formed sentences and made sense to me, I was hooked on reading. I remember the first time I 'understood' what reading was all about. I was in the car, running errands with my parents. All the street signs, billboards and store names came into crystal clear focus. They were telling me something! Talking to me. I'm sure I drove my family crazy as I read everything that came into my view out loud.
A reader was born.

I have heard several authors and writer advise us unpublished newbies to READREADREAD. Pick up a book you love and disect it. What do you love about it? The characters? What about the descriptions, settings, writing? I have marked many books that a sentence or idea have jumped off the page and startled me into reading it again. I've closed the book over the words "The End" only to be unsatisfied with my retention of the amazing story that lay within the covers. I needed to read it again. Then I ask myself, "how can I make my writing better?" Or "I want to write like this!!"

I have also heard several published authors say they don't read. They claim they don't want to mess up a good thing (meaning their writing flow, I guess). To these authors, whose books I have read, I want to say, "maybe that's why all your stories sound the same." Because they do. Same style. Same trouble. Same characters.

I attended a writers conference with Julie Daines (who is a very talented, and soon to be published, writer). She showed me her marked up copy of A THOUSAND DAYS by Shannon Hale. She said this book helped her a ton in her writing. She got the chance to kneel before Shannon and tell her how much her writing helped. Julie showed Shannon the book. Shannon was touched. I was impressed.
I want to write like that! Until then, I will read and read and then read some more.

We must read to renew ourselves and our writing.
Renew. Restore. Rejuvenate.

Go read a good book right now then come back and tell us all about it!


mooderino said...

Reading is the best way to learn how to write, but I think it helps to read a lot of different genres.

Moody Writing
The Funnily Enough

T.J. said...

One day, Taffy, you and I will get to do a book signing together. (And stupid people will still ask if we're married. Ugh!) But at least we'll be doing a signing together.

Taffy said...

Good Point Moody!

Taffy said...

YES TJ! Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Leslie Pugh said...

I feel the same way you feel about reading and I think my love for reading started at a similar time in my life. These days I continue to find myself glued to a book almost daily when I need to be writing or doing something else. And I'm also amazed at those that don't read, especially if they are writers.

KarenG said...

Totally agree that reading is essential to hone one's writing skills. I love to read, can hardly get enough of it. And when I'm blocked in my writing, reading helps me get through it.

Taffy said...

Leslie, I once heard an author say they don't read while writing because it messes them up. Maybe that's why their books seem to have the same storyline??

Taffy said...

I agree, Karen! If I'm having trouble writing, I find myself reading tons more. It usually helps.

Rachel Frost said...

I've noticed that I've picked up habits, good and bad, from reading certain authors, so I can understand authors who don't want their work to be influenced by reading too much. And just because they don't read doesn't automatically make all their work the same. I glean ideas from movies, video games, images, people... heck, looking at plushies gives me ideas. Sure, some of those non-reading authors are formulaic(prolly because it's more easy money) but there are a lot who aren't.

Teri Harman said...

Great post! Author Tess Hilmo told me that writers have to read to perfect their art. She said, "It's like musicians. If they never listened to music, they couldn't create music." Reading and writing go hand in hand.

Taffy said...

Good points, Rachel! THANKS!

Taffy said...

Good comparison,Teri! Then we could argue the other way, I guess, with Beethoven. Maybe we are born with the stories inside us.
I know the more I read the more I see/understand my mistakes.