Monday, March 3, 2014

Writers are Readers

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.