The Author Who doesn’t Read

Don’t worry, I am not one of those.  In fact, it was reading that inspired me to write.  However, it amazes me how many aspiring writers who have told me they can’t read.  Not because they are illiterate, but because it “gets in the way” of their writing.  Some have even told me they don’t like to read.  Others write in a genre they never read or don’t like to read.  This really amazes me.

An Author who doesn’t read is like a painter who has never seen art.

Reading can not get in the way of your writing career.  It has to be part of it.  It doesn’t matter what you write, you need to know the genre.  This is true for many reasons.

  • Writing is an art, you can learn a lot from other prose.  You can see what you like, and what you hate.
  • Reading expands your own knowledge.  Even if you read fiction you learn a lot about punctuation, dialogue, and even a few new words.
  • If you are trying to get published you will learn what publishers are buying.  This is also true for short stories, you can learn a lot about what an editor likes by reading their magazines.  It will save you a lot of time with submissions if you see that publication doesn’t much care for your style.

Recently I noticed my reading time had fallen by the way side.  I am behind on my favorite magazine.  My solution, I bought two more books.  I have now made it a point to make time to read every day.  At the very least I read the story of the day on Daily Science Fiction.  They email me a story every weekday, and of course who can resist reading email.  I can’t.

If you hate to read, don’t write.  If you think you will get rich, you are wrong.  If you don’t read a particular genre, don’t write in it either.  You don’t know the genre, write in a genre you read.  Or , pick up a few books from the genre you are writing in, and see what they are like.  I hate nothing more than the aspiring Sci-Fi writers who think it’s all about spaceships and geeks.

Next, no matter what genre you write, for me it is Science Fiction (mostly), you need to read other genres.  I have read the classics, Romance (ugh), Horror, Westerns, and many others.  Some I have liked, others I hated.  With the exception of Romance, I have found at least one novel in every genre I have read that I like.  Even better, each of the books I read (even the Romance ones) made my Science Fiction writing better.

Last, you have to read some non-fiction too.  Writing help books, current events, even the newspaper are all good things.  Once thing about Science Fiction is that you really have to understand the workings of our current world in order to create new ones or speculate how ours might be changed in the future.

The Author who does not read, will ultimately fail.  While writing is time-consuming you have to dedicate some of that time to reading.

Comments ( 4 )

  1. Trina Marie Phillips
    I agree that reading is important to writing. But I do find that some authors are more conducive to inspiration than others. And sometimes, when my own work is burning in my brain, I choose to lay off novel reading for a short time to avoid distraction. It is important to read widely though. The more you know, the better writer you'll be.
  2. Michael McDuffee (@writemcd)
    I usually can't read something while I'm intensely writing, which has actually led to not having read much in the last few months. I absolutely agree that you can't write well without loving reading... I have a hard time imagining anybody trying to put together a novel without reading a few thousand. With worlds and characters that I really love, though, I usually end up writing little one-off scenarios in my head as I daydream - and I don't want to be doing that when I should be writing my own work.
  3. Richard Flores IV
    I can't believe I forgot to reply to your comments, Trina and Michael. I was emailed today by someone who felt I was very wrong to post this. I wish they would have commented here for the sake of discussion. This person is a writer who says he can't stand reading. In any case, I agree with laying off reading when you are in the middle of a hot project. Sometimes that good book can keep you from writing. I am reading a really good one right now, and I just can't put it down. It is cutting into my reading time something fierce.
  4. achetanbatra
    You are motivating or de motivating, an author who doesn't read. Exceptions will be granted:- 1. When you observe the particular genre book, and write a story in that style. Observation is the best skill. 2. When you are localized to your thoughts, and know what to write or what to not. Basic idea is to convey your thoughts in the story, that's it. Even your comparison to the painter, who never seen the art is beautified to the world. He/ She is as edmisable to the world as others, it all depends what you want to express. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances brings out the best creavity in you.... And you are not likely to comment that or give out a partial comment about these authors who doesn't read

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