(I’m in Nebraska with Jack Roth this week. So I have some stuff scheduled. On a side note, if you don’t hear from me by Friday, please, call for help…)
Writing and reading go together. Anytime I see threads or talks of people who write and don’t read, I cringe. How in the hell can you write if you don’t read? It’s simple. Reading… well, reading comes in two frames for me. First is the reading as a writer. I take the story apart. I find words I like, I find words I don’t like. I find places where scenes are setup, written on purpose, and the like that helps to move the story along.
Think of it like an athlete watching game tape to see how they could become better.
The second style of reading is to just get lost in a book. I turn off the writer in me, and just become Jim, the reader. I lose myself and enjoy the book. And that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the book if I’m analyzing it… but I do prefer to be Jim, the reader.
Now, for those who write and don’t read… come on, how can that be?
Everyone is inspired by someone else… and writers are inspired by writers. When we read, we become inspired. We will even mimic a little, which is fine. The idea is to have a wide range of authors we like to read that help shape our style.
TakeDarkTowerfrom Stephen King. He was inspired by two things… Lord of the Rings, and westerns.
When I readDarkTower, books one and two, I had begun a new story. I soon found myself so inspired by King’s story, that I was flying through the pages of my own story. I wasn’t copying him, no, but I was inspired by him. By his ideas. By his scene. By his story.
What I’m trying to say is that if you want to be a writer, then you need to read. I read once that for every thousand words you write, you should read ten thousand words.
I set a goal of reading a book a week. I hope to increase that someday when things pan out and life cools off, but that’s my goal. Thanks to my Kindle, I set a nightly goal of 20% of a book. So yes, most times it only takes me 5 days to read a book. I get 2 days left over to start the next… score for me!
And I mix it up. I read horror. I read thrillers. I read crime. Hell, I read general and literary fiction too. They all work together to shape me and inspire me. When I hit a wall, I don’t freak out. I read a book. There’s just something about watching how an author starts a book, sets things up, and then delivers… it reminds me of what we’re here to do. We’re here to write. But to write, we read.
Think about football. Those players play once a week. On Sunday (usually). You think for the rest of the week they just sit around? Heh. They’re watching film. They’re practicing plays. They’re working to make sure their next game is better than last weeks. And that’s how we need to be as writers. We need to be writing, yes. But we need to be reading. We need to find new words, new voices, new material and makes us keep thinking.
Because let’s face it, to really succeed here, your best book is your next book.