If you don’t read books, why would you want to write them? The Authors Collection
January 14, 2014
One of the perennial topics about writers is whether a writer must be a reader.
To me it’s a no-brainer.
If a person doesn’t love everything about books, why would he want to spend thousands of hours developing the ability to write them?
And I mean thousands of hours.
I have always thought that a person does well to take occasional inventories about the constants in his life, those things that have stayed with him through thick and thin.
I would be willing to bet that most authors who take such personal inventories would discover they have an abiding love for reading.
I know I do.
As a matter of fact one of the things I miss most about life when I don’t do it is reading.
When does an author have time to read you ask?
When he can’t avoid it.
I don’t care how many irons an author has in the fire if he doesn’t find himself yearning to read a book, he should hang up his keyboard and take up golf.
You understand what I mean.
But, you say, with the vast flood of books out there in the digital world, many of which aren’t worth reading, how is a person supposed to find a book worthy of her time?
Bad books don’t keep people from wanting to read.
A reader can tell in thirty seconds if a book is his cup of tea.
If it’s not, he puts it down and looks elsewhere.
Or she reads a classic.
Or he reads a book based on a recommendation from a friend.
The point is that authors are simply a subset of readers. Not all readers are writers, but all writers should be readers.
Occasionally I see blogs where authors say they don’t have time to do both, to read and write.
I understand the sentiment.
But the hard truth of it is that every author is, or should be, a student of writers who have gone before him. And not only those who have gone before him, but also those who are toiling now in the vineyard.
Even if a writer simply sees reading as a way of researching his craft, aside from the joy pure joy of reading, he owes it to himself to study the works readers in his genre are flocking to in the current market.
Plus, as authors develop their craft they read with new eyes. I am always surprised when I return to a favorite book and read it again. Now that I have spent time putting words on paper what I see in a book that is an old friend is a revelation. I see a technique the author used to draw me in.
Or sometimes I see a technique I don’t like, and I make a mental note to stay away from it.
So if you are a writer, do yourself a favor and take time every week to curl up with a good book.