If you’re reading this post, that means that you’re probably a reader, an author, or a lost internet-wanderer. 😉 (I’m glad you found me!) Basically, it means you probably have a thing for books. You are so not alone.
But I want to take a moment and talk to the writers out there–including those of you who think you might want to be a writer someday. I want talk reading. It’s hard enough to find time to write a novel, let alone read other people’s novels. Trust me, I’ve been there–when I look back at the year and realize I read as many books as fingers on my right hand.
But…it must be done. (And you want to anyway…)
WHY? Why must we read?!
Because…reading is just as important as writing. You need to read to know story. I once edited for a client who wanted to be a fiction writer, but he’d only ever read one fiction book and didn’t want to read and didn’t watch movies. Thus, he had a real hard time with the concept of story and the writing/editing process was extremely difficult for him.
Here are a few reasons why you need to read:
1. Reading shows you what’s hot & what’s not.
If I had stopped reading the moment I started writing the Out of Time Series, then I would still be thinking that Hunger Games is the new big thing. I’d still hold to the thought that dystopian is “the genre of all genres” and I wouldn’t know anything about new subgenres like historical fantasy, and YA time travel, and steampunk.
I wouldn’t know what’s hot or what’s not hot on the bookstore shelves in my genre. So I make sure to read new releases every year. I write Young Adult fiction (YA) from a Christian standpoint, so you bet I’m keeping my eye on what’s hot on the YA general market shelves and on what my fellow authors from the CBA are writing.
2. Reading shows you good writing.
Aaaaaand it shows you bad writing. 😛 But let’s focus on the good right now. How do you learn what makes a tasty pie? YOU EAT PIES. And you think about them, and you evaluate them, and you steal recipes from your grandmother and take note of what made it particularly tasty.
How you learn what makes awesome movies? YOU WATCH MOVIES. And you analyze the bad ones from the good ones–take note of the things you liked and the things you hated. And then you spend two hours of popcorn munching thinking, “I can totally do that. And I can do it better.”
So go do it. Only with books. 😛
Read books. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Pay attention to phrases that impress you and words you don’t know and character arcs that shock your toe-socks off.
3. Reading inspires you to write.
Ever pick up a book that makes you just want to go WRITE? That happens to me when I read The Hunger Games or Unblemished or By Darkness Hid or Throne of Glass. And do you know what I do when I feel that urge? I PUT THE BOOK DOWN AND I GO WRITE. Yes. That is allowed. That is encouraged. Use your inspiration when you have it.
4. Reading keeps you relatable to your readers.
Your readers aren’t just reading your books. I know. Shocker. They read other books and then they turn into rabid fans. And if you aren’t paying attention to what they’re fangirling/fanboying (fanmanning?) over, then how can you write something that is interesting to them?
But…but…HOW DO YOU MAKE TIME FOR READING?
If you’re an author, you probably KNOW that you are supposed to read. Trust me. I’ve been there. “Yes, I know I should be reading…a lot. But first let me clean the house, feed my husband, work
one two full-time jobs, write a book and…now hate black words on white paper.” 😛
Very little explanation is needed on WHY we should read. (But I still gave it to you because reminders are beautiful things.) The bigger question is HOW?
Chip, chip, away!
Think of Stoic from How To Train Your Dragon. His analogy of pounding his head against a rock and eventually the rock broke into pieces. (You DO know what I’m talking about, right?) Chip away at it, my friend. One book at a time, even if it’s just a couple books a year. It’s a start! Then you can at least start the habit of reading, and you can build off of that. Another option is to…
Schedule it in
I know this seems to murder the romance in reading, but sometimes you just need to schedule in reading.
Reading is part of taking the job of author seriously. It took me a while to accept this (because, for some reason, I felt guilty for reading when I “should have been” writing. Phooey.) So I made Saturdays reading days. And then as hubby and I got in the habit of reading, then suddenly an evening a week became reading time. And now we end up reading 2-3 evenings every week and every Saturday and I’m able to get through 60-ish books a year! Woot! Woot! That’s enough for me to keep up with the new releases in my genre and read some old releases that I hadn’t gotten to yet.
Replace movie nights with a reading night.
This one took some more practice (because hubby and I are often brain dead by the end of the day), but hubby and I eventually started replacing a few movie nights a week or “TV nights” with reading night. Not only has it got me reading more frequently, but now hubby is reading more frequently too! #thebrainwashingisworking
There you have it–my advice on reading. It’s so important for authors to read and it’s a habit that can take a long time to build up. It’s okay if you choose reading over writing on certain days (just not on deadline days. *wink* ) In fact, if God has called you to write, you need to go at it with all your might–and that includes staying educated. That. Means. Reading.
So with that…what are you going to read next?
Do you ever have a hard time fitting in reading?