Step Away From The Keyboard: Read For The Sake Of Your Craft

I’m addicted – to reading, that is.  I read an average of 500 books each year.  Sometimes to the detriment of my own writing time.  And to all the authors reading this, yes, I buy 95% of them new.  A few are passed on to me from family and friends.

No, not all those books are literary masterpieces.  No, they are not all on the bestseller list.  Nevertheless, each of them was crafted by someone who sat down with an idea, translated it to words on a page, and made me see the world she created.  In most of those words I find something to admire and aspire to, or occasionally, something to be aware of and avoid in my own writing.

The accumulation of those hundreds of thousands of words excites in me the desire to create something of my own.  Something that will cause the reader to gasp in surprise, to laugh until he can’t breathe, to sigh over a remembered moment.

The thing is, if you’re going to write, you have to read.  You must maintain an interest in what other writers are creating.  You have to feed off the inspiration provided by your fellow writers, appreciate how they turned a phrase here, and there, twisted a plot.  You have to read a good mix of styles – fiction and non-fiction, suspense, mystery, self-help, current events, history.  The more you read the better writer you will be.  The more well rounded your reading practice, the more knowledge and tools you bring to your own writing.

If you’ve let your reading slide because you want to be a writer, step away from the keyboard.  Schedule at least one morning, afternoon, or evening each week – whichever is best for you.  If you have a work-in-progress (WIP), and you find it distracting to read in the same genre while creating, then read in another genre that interests you.  Whatever you choose to enjoy, just get away from what you are working on and read.  You’ll be a better writer for it.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell us what you’ve chosen to read while you’re away from the keyboard.