Are You Reading Enough to Be a Writer?

Hello again, my lovely followers. Sorry for the hiatus, I have been wrapping up a novel and the ending just won’t write itself! 🙂 

Something crossed my mind as I was writing on a private project the other day, though. I’m writing a fantasy novel. One that I hope to publish with my own name on it maybe next year. And I was really finding it difficult to write it for some reason. Most of what I do is non-fiction but I’ve always been decent as a fiction writer. So why was I stuck? 

And then something dawned on me. I don’t really read fantasy. I mean I do, but recently I haven’t had time to. Ever since I was little I was reading Madeline L’Engle, Lord of the Ring, and similar books. I know I love fantasy. I know when a book is good or bad, at least to my pleasing. Patrick Rothfuss is amazing, and when I started reading The Name of the Wind I knew that I liked it. 

But I don’t read enough. I don’t read daily. I should be going through a novel a week. And not just reading, but reading critically. It’s one thing to read a book and say “Wow, that was great!” but it’s another to read a book as a writer. Reading as a reader is a joy ride. But reading as a writer requires that when something strikes you as amazing, you pay attention and find out why it’s amazing. Was it the word choice? Sentence structure? 

In essence, what do the best of the best do that make us fall in love with their writing? 

I’ve come to the conclusion that just as an engineer has to study engineering, often by looking at things that have already been engineered and figuring out how it was created, or as a designer has to study about design and study the works of other designers and decide what worked, we as writers should be doing the same thing. 

Even if you’re a nonfiction writer, even if you write magazine articles, even if the only thing you do is write about underwater basket weaving in a saltwater pool, you should be reading every other article in your field and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Study the best. 

It’s ridiculous to sit back as writers and not read. That’s how we study the best. That’s how we become better. Yet so many of us, me included, don’t do it. 

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to start reading more historical fiction, fantasy, Gothic romance, and horror since those are my genres, and make notes as I read critically. I pledge for the remainder of the year (and into next year but seriously let’s take it one step at a time) to finish a novel a week as research. Because it is. 

Obviously this week is a little late started so we’ll say starting next week. I’m going to read The Name of the Wind because while I mentioned I started it, I never actually finished it. Hah! Oops. See what I mean about needing to read? 

I love my local library so much, and they have a copy in store, so I’ll go down today and pick it up. And by go down I mean across the street. 🙂 

So what about you? Do you read enough to be a writer? Do you think writers should read in their genre or field to get better? Let me know in the comments! 

Until next time, happy writing!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. I love Patrick Rothfuss! Great post. I find myself highlighting or underlining passages in books that strike me. There is a magic in certain phrases and sentences. Sometimes it isn’t even about the story.

    1. courtneyherz says:

      I agree with you! And thanks for the response! I really appreciate it! Sometimes the words alone are what draw you in and the story is secondary. Then of course there are writers like Stephen King whose words may be more crass but the story still keeps you up all night reading. And then up all night because you read it haha. 🙂 Both are talented storytellers but they draw in the reader in different ways. Interesting to see. 🙂 And I’m glad I’m not the only person who highlights cool phrases in books! 🙂

  2. ruth abegail says:

    It’s really great to meet words that are perfectly combined.You know it when it’s beautiful 🙂

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