You have to read to write!

I love to read. I go through phases with my reading though. I’m weird.

When I was growing up my grandmother got me into books about cats solving mysteries. Obviously, it was fiction (although I’ve met some pretty amazing cats in my lifetime). Fiction has such a valuable place in the literature, especially with kids and young adults. Without reading, how can they spark their imaginations? Well, the answer to that now is video games. Don’t get me wrong, I love Call of Duty just as much as the next guy, but I balance out the mind-numbing experience with my books.

Reading doesn’t only spark imaginations, its makes kids smarter. We all know that. Kids that read perform better in school. Their writing and vocabulary improves and, I would argue, they are happier. I know I was, and I know that performed better in all subject areas simply because I read (screw math).

So, I read fiction all the way through high school, but in college, I stopped. Not reading, but reading fiction. I had little time for any reading besides my college texts, which oddly enough, I mostly enjoyed. My passion is international affairs, so I made sure my schedule was full of classes that most Americans would balk at. Towards the end of my graduate studies, I decided to pick up some biographies of American historical figures. I got hooked on non-fiction. There was a time that I even decided that I was through reading fiction. I knew fiction was a waste of time.

It took me years to pick up a fiction novel again, and I did it with the newest Star Wars series of books. Once again, I was hooked. I again fell in love with letting go. I could pick up a book and forget everything else that was going on. Thank goodness I did, because I needed it. I became a cranky person when someone jolted me out of my book worlds.

Now I’m finishing my first fiction book, so clearly my view of fiction has changed. I think fiction and non-fiction are both are vital to having a well rounded reading experience. They offer different things and I would strongly argue that both are necessary for someone to become a good author (I don’t claim to be one, by the way).

Perhaps the most important thing is to keep reading. It is so easy to get distracted and not pick up a book. How often do you think – I’m just too tired tonight, so I’ll make sure I read tomorrow? Then the next day, the same thing. Getting out of the habit is much easier than getting back into it (opposite of most habits).

So, do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Do you think one or both are important for writers?

Do you think authors can be successful without being avid readers themselves?

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About Allen Watson

I've finally decided to write out the stories in my head. Reading has always been a passion of mine, but now I want to get my own book out there. Bachelor's Degree in Political Science Master's Degree in Teaching View all posts by Allen Watson

4 responses to “You have to read to write!

  • coffeescholar

    I’ve read some of those ‘cats solving mysteries’ books and they’re not too bad. I assume you mean LIlian Jackson Braun’s series. I think an author who doesn’t read is like a tattoo artist with no ink, a hairstylist with no hair, a Viking with no ax…

  • lilicasplace

    I believe that authors who are not generally readers themselves, are at a disadvantage. They should read both fiction and non-fiction books to get a better understanding of what is expected from the two types of books.

    In between my writing, I try to make it a habit of reading at least three or four books a week. I like both fiction and non-fiction. My promise for this year is that I am going to read as many different genres as possible.

    I completely agree with your statement about how distractions can keep us from picking up a book today, and again tomorrow, and the day after. It can be devastating for our writing too. How many times are we too busy or distracted to work on a draft and say the same thing? That’s why some works sit unfinished in drawers or computer files for weeks, months, sometimes years on end. I’m guilty of that as well. But I won’t do it anymore. I don’t fear failure or rejection at this point in my life; I just don’t want to be disappointed in myself for not following my dream of finishing the works that I’ve started.

    I loved your posts. Will definitely be following. I love great advice! Thanks.

  • Allen Watson

    Thanks for the kind comments. You sure do have me beat with how many books you read a week! I do always have a book with me though. Reading gives me time to unwind at night.

    Thanks for stopping by! Have a great night.

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