The biggest part of writing, for me, is reading. Reading teaches an appreciation of style. It helps me to learn what you do and don’t like about storytelling, and the technicality of writing. It allows me to see the way others use literary and poetic license to turn words and phrases. It’s the best way to get to know the intricacies of language. To learn how to play with it, have fun, and take chances.
By default, reading expands your field of ideas, and causes you to think critically. As a writer, it makes you the audience of your craft by its masters without having to pay for a class. Most of all, it’s just really great inspiration. Whether I read something bad enough to make me angry at the author, or something so superb it awakens envy, I get inspired.
It seems obvious, but the first step to writing, is being a reader. As well as, to be a willing lifelong student. I will read just about anything. That hasn’t always been the case. I’ve been aware of my writing talent since elementary school, when my teachers would gush to my mother about my skill. Since it came so easily to me, for the longest time, I didn’t appreciate what other writers had to offer in the way of teaching. Not even realizing that my entire writing prowess was being shaped every time I read a book. From Dick and Jane, to Carrie, to Whoreson, to Waiting to Exhale, to Things Fall Apart, I was learning how to manipulate language. How to create environments of such verisimilitude that I could make readers feel my emotions, so that they cry with me, laugh with me, and we become friends without ever seeing each other.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I appreciated reading. I started out with a love of books because of my mom. School threatened my relationship with reading, as it stopped being something to do for leisure and became a thing to do to pass classes. Fortunately, I regained my love of books because of my love and respect for the craft of writing. I crave learning all I can about the craft, and want to be the best writer I can be.
There are writers who limit their ability by being stubborn enough to think talent alone is enough. But, as with anything else, you need guidance and practice. As a writer, you are fortunate enough to literally have libraries of assistance available for free. Take advantage. Have a high enough respect for your art to learn as much about it as possible.
I am far from the writer I aim to be. Punctuation and spelling are the bane of my existence. My sentences run on sometimes, with no immediate end in sight, because it’s really important for me to complete my thought in that one sentence, instead of finding ways to splice the thought into smaller, less winded portions. I’m working on it. The entire point of writing, in my humble opinion, is to communicate effectively. Sometimes a run on sentence is necessary to carry the breadth of emotion you are trying to convey. Sometimes, not so much. Reading helps me learn how to navigate the nuances and become better.
So, in conclusion to this long blog, if you want to become a better writer, as I do, then read. Don’t feel you are too good for it. And read as many different genres as possible. Expand and be great!
Thanks for reading! Peace!