Growing up, my closest friends were books. Or maybe my closest friends were in books. Either way, I was almost never far away from a book. When we went to Niagara Falls as a family, I read Sense and Sensibility and A Tale of Two Cities on that trip. Every time we stood in line, every time we waited for a meal, I pulled out a book.
Every day after school, the first thing I would do is pick up a book and read. I had a bookshelf full of books and a basket of books underneath my bed.
I really became the person I am because of the books I’ve read. But as I grew up, went to school, started working, I didn’t have as much time to read. Life got in the way, and I think my writing suffered from it. I never stopped writing, but I did have the tendency to put reading on hold. I still went to the library, picked out a few books, but not as frequently as before.
For Christmas, I received a tablet, and I use it for reading. Now, I can buy books for a lower price and carry them around in a pocket. I love the convenience, but at the same time, I miss the feel of books and turning pages. Though my sagging bookshelves probably appreciate not having to hold any more weight.
|The small bookshelf at the end of the hall|
But on the upside, I’ve been able to read much more than I have in years. In fact, the past 2 months, I’ve read more than I did all of last year. And I’ve seen a definite improvement in my writing. As I see how other writers do it, as I see fantastic plotting, and not so great writing, I’m noticing what I like and what works and doesn’t. I get ideas and I can’t wait to get back to my own writing once I finish.
The old adage of improving your writing by reading is true. Watching and learning from others is a key ingredient to writing. Just like in nursing, I have to learn from other nurses with more experience than I have.
There’s always an opportunity to learn, and reading can give a writer new insights to storytelling.