All writers have a process that allows them to create. However, the art of "Writing" is often mistaken for that "Process." Hopefully this blog explains the difference, and inspires people to develop their crafts, become writers, or just keep on writing.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Writers As Readers

For all the writers out there, I offer you this simple question: "What are you currently reading?" Hopefully this simple question has a very simple answer for you, and you peel it off without a second thought. I only ask that you answer something other than, "I am proofreading my own work," "I am in the middle of several books right now," or "I don't actually have time to read other things because I am writing so much." These aren't answers as much as excuses, and I will tell you why.

"I am proofreading my own work." I am sure you are. However, the importance of reading things is to read other styles and techniques. Consuming words other than your own is important in that you challenge yourself to see things through different lenses, and study how different writers approach situations that you might someday try out. Reading your own work has its place, but it is never an appropriate substitute from what you can gain from taking in other authors' words. Even if what you read doesn't have anything to offer you, at least you can look back and say, "Wow, I've learned a lot of things as a writer" because you know all the author's tricks. That's something.

"I am in the middle of several books right now." Also quite possibly true. However, if this is how you are willing to answer that question, it is similar to saying, "I am not really dedicated to one specific thing." Everyone has (or should have) a few books that they are progressing through, but when asked that question, a serious reader will have one specific work come to mind. As for myself, I am reading Flint Dille's The Gamesmaster: Almost Famous in the Geek '80s. This is after finishing How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan. I also have Dead Wake with a bookmark, A Mother's Reckoning is on my things-to-read shelf, and Lee & Andrew Child's Better Off Dead is there as well. However, I know which work is influencing me right now, so that's the one with which I answer.

"I don't actually have time to read other things because I am writing so much." Any writer should be so lucky. Now, during certain times like NaNoWriMo or during bursts of inspiration, an author might be overcome with just waves of words that demand to be committed to paper, and have little time for anything else. However, this is more often the exception than the rule. Sometimes it does feel easier to write until the point of exhaustion, then step back and do nothing. If I may be so bold, that feeling of writing exhaustion is an excellent time to read for a bit, simply because it lets the creating part of the brain rest while the consuming part gets its own workout. Having a book that you can read in twenty-minute bursts, perhaps before you go to sleep, is a great way to keep the reading habit going, even if you are writing to the point of collapse. It can actually be refreshing.

Reading is such an important part of the writing process - this cannot be overstated. If anything, reading something should be able to offer a grain of inspiration that someday, somewhere, an aspiring writer might be reading your book, looking for something to push them to that next level. Until that day, some daily word consumption will benefit you as a writer, and it might just expand that brain of yours.

So in closing, I ask you: What are you currently reading?

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