The Writer’s Life: Reading

by Randy Murray on April 12, 2012

There is a debate, among writers, over if reading is required for writers.

I come down firmly on the side of that yes, you, as a writer, must be a dedicated reader.

At least if you want to become a good, potentially great, writer.

Most writers recognized the drive to write comes from a love of reading. It grows from a desire to tell stories, but also of a deep and abiding love of the power of words, of language. And what better way to immerse oneself in stories and powerful language than to read?

If you want to write well, you must read widely. It’s easy to let your reading time fall away with the demands of life and the need to write. But you must not sacrifice your reading time. You must guard it jealously. Reading time will recharge you, inspire you. I often find that when others complain of being unable to write, of becoming blocked, that they’re also ignoring their reading. Read and fuel the writing engines. Read, and then write.

I’ll offer this additional word of advice. If you are working on a particular project, a novel, for example, direct your reading beyond your research, away from novels so that you won’t wander into another writer’s style and material. If you’re writing non-fiction, embrace the novel or poetry and let these works elevate and expand your prose.

But read what you will. Your mind and interests and appetites will tell you what to read next. Never force yourself or try and read something that doesn’t speak to you. Put that aside for later. You need to feed your writing engines. Do that with great works that drive you to greater experimentation.

Seek out writers better than you and read their work. Become inspired.

Then write.


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The The Writer’s Life: Reading by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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