You’ve probably heard that reading is on the decline, not just among the general population but among aspiring writers as well. I admit this baffles me. How can you be serious about writing yet have no interest in reading?

Daniel Parks | Doe Library Reading Room—Flickrcc

Daniel Parks | Doe Library Reading Room, UC Berkeley/Flickrcc

 

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
―Stephen King

 

It’s true that over the years I’ve occasionally heard writers say they don’t read. The two most popular excuses given:

1)  I DON’T HAVE TIME.
Hmm. Maybe you should have a word with Mr. King?

2)  READING INTERFERES WITH MY WRITER’S VOICE.
May be hard to hear, but if this is the case, you likely haven’t developed a voice. Whether intentional or not, we all begin by mimicking. It’s part of the learning process—not an excuse to stop reading but a cue to read more widely.

 

The writer’s voice is the thing that marks the work as a creation of that writer and that writer only. You read a thing and you say, “This could not have been written by anybody else. That is voice.
—Chuck Wendig

 

WHY READ?

  • Reading not only teaches us to write, it teaches us to think.
  • Reading isn’t a means to escape life. It allows us to live many lives.
  • Reading inspires the imagination. There are no new stories. Originality and creativity stem from the writer not the plot.

 

There is nothing new in art except talent.
—Anton Chekhov

 

SO, WHAT IS BEHIND THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE DESIRE TO WRITE AND THE DESIRE TO READ? 

Some Possible Answers:
The rise of fan fiction, where core inspiration is often found on the screen rather than between the covers of a book.

The quality of writing is becoming less important to readers thereby diminishing it in the eyes of writers.

Perhaps reading is too solitary an endeavor in this age of social media and smart phones. Have we simply become uncomfortable when left alone with our imaginations?

 

Thoughts? Have the rules changed?
Is reading no longer important for the aspiring writer?

 

 

TO EVERYONE CELEBRATING THIS THURSDAY,
HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!
 
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