Thursday, June 12, 2014

Do you need to read to be a good writer?

I don't actually own this picture, but it was cute,
so I put the title of this post on it.
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So I know this is a question that depends on the person, but honestly, I just wanted to throw my two cents in there.

But basically, I know some writers that who for whatever reason either won't read, or they hate it. And I don't really understand it. Now, if you're simply too busy to read, that's understandable (it happens), but a writer (especially fiction) who hates reading?

If there's anything that writers say will help your writing, one thing that everyone repeats ALL THE TIME its that if you want to be a good writer, you got to READ. 

I know this one girl who's a fantastic writer. She's honestly pretty good and she knows a lot about writing. The only thing is that she doesn't read and doesn't see why its such a big deal if she doesn't. 

But see, just like any other craft, in order to improve you have a) study a ton B) practice till you go blind (basically). And reading is how writers study. If you're a writer and you want to improve, you have to read. 
Reading helps you see what works and what doesn't work. 

Struggling on how to write something in first person or third? Read books in first or third and see how they do it. Writing a book in verse? Read other books in verse. Read things outside your favorite genres (I'm guilty of not doing this. Basically all I read and write is speculative fiction and historical fiction). Read stuff you don't really want to write or read. Heck, even read nonfiction or if you're a nonfiction writer, read fiction. (You could even read writing guides).

Take notes while you read if you want. Or if you don't feel like being that studious, don't. Put little tabs by parts that struck out to you or by words you want to look up. Look at books that break grammar and other writing rules. (Examples I've seen of this is The Girl in the Arena in which there's no quotation marks, only dashes. And Blood Red Road by Moria Young in which I think the dialogue is separated by commas). 

Read and study classics, see what makes them so famous and important. Read friends writing (or go find some writing friends and ask to read their stuff), and critique their writing. Not only will critiquing their writing help them, but it'll help you as well. Show you things to watch out for in your own writing and things you want to try. 

Basically read everything. 

Reading for writers is like chefs who don't eat or try out competition's dishes. 

Sure if you don't read, but only write you'll still grow. But it will be very slowly and you won't see as much improvement. You don't have to read a lot, but you should be reading. How many books and what kind of books depends on you, but if anything, you could always read a little before bed like I do. (Reading before bed, studies have shown, apparently trick you into getting tired easier. But I wouldn't recommend horror right before bed.)

And besides, reading other books will give you so many new ideas. Like seriously, each book is just waiting to inspire you (not to copy it obviously, but to give you your own idea). Also, don't be afraid to read bad books, because then you can learn what not to do. 

Another reason you should be reading is because its entertaining and you can learn stuff. Even from fiction books you can learn stuff. You can learn how to empathize better with people (studies show that people who read have more empathy for others), learn how to handle a situation, learn about people and cultures you don't normally interact with, and learn things about yourself. 

So basically, if you're a writer, there are a ton of good reasons why you should be trying to read if you don't already. Besides, you're a writer. You love books and stories. Why wouldn't you want to read more awesome stories and even learn from them? 

Sincerely,
Sareh

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