Are you a writer who reads or a writer who doesn't read?
Almost every article on how to become a good writer emphasizes the necessity to read, read, read. I am not a reader per se; I can't sit down with a novel and almost never read purely for enjoyment. I get all of my information from the radio or from listening. I am atuned to voices and love dialog, but I really don't read like other writers do. I'm sure I'm not alone. Where are my peeps? Are you a non-reader who forced yourself to read? Has it improved your writing?
I am a reader, although I haven't been doing much recently. I sort of pre-date the electronic age, so I am not as inclined to get everything off the internet.
The need to read probably depends on what kind of writer you are. A friend of mine had a career in journalism and public relations who tells me he is not a great reader.
Earest Hemingway, I am told, read for two hours a day, despite the macho image he portrayed in public. (again I date myself)
All and all, it is a personal thing. You might sample a few things nd see how you like it. Or take a survey couse in literature.
I also have read that Ernest read and studiously and daily wrote much more than what many people understand. He was much more of an artist than his macho image portrays.
Dahoglund, I like the phrase you used "the need to read"! I'm more of a "personal essay" writer. Interesting re: Hemingway. I interpreted for lit classes and tutored students on writing lit. analysis, but don't read by choice (tee hee).
I'm a voracious reader of a wide variety of genres--and always have been. Professionally, I write marketing copy: web content, PR, newsletters, etc. Personally, I write non-fiction and dabble in historical fiction. At the minimum, you should spend time reading in the areas in which you are writing. If you are writing Sci Fi/Fantasy, you should read in that genre. It isn't just for developing your style--which should be yours alone--but also to understand the techniques and what publishers accept as publishable material. I worked in publishing for 5 years: there is a minimum length acceptable for new authors; a certain style that different publishers seek; and, a very critical eye as to how much development editing will be needed. Read, read, read! And best of luck to you!
Billie, I love books and reading. If a novel is really good I will get lost in it and not put it down. I admit since being involved with Hub Pages a lot of my reading now involves other people's hubs. My other reading has had to take a back seat to some extent but I often listen to an audio book while I am writing now. I have so many books in my library I have to sit down soon and devote more time to just reading so I can begin to get through them all before I die.
Jodah - how great to be involved in other people's hubs. I do LOVE the audio book. So you LISTEN to an audio book WHILE you're writing? I listen to NPR sometimes while I write, but most of the time I have to have complete silence to write.
Sorry but I was a reader long before becoming a writer.
First there were the Marvel comics of the 1960s. This was followed closely by the re-issue in paperback format of the Doc Savage pulp magazine stories, Conan the Barbarian stories, John Carter of Mars stories and H. P. Lovecraft weirdness also in paperback. In the 1970s I read The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night as well as The Last Tycoon. By the mid-70s there were the Sherlock Holmes short stories as well as the novel that started it all off - A Study in Scarlet. I read 1984 by George Orwell and was blown away. Around the same time I read Chrome Yellow and Brave New World by Huxley. Nowadays I enjoy the Discworld novels. Admittedly of late I have been diving into more historic works. Perhaps I am getting ready to tell my grandfather's story. He fought on the Western Front during WW1.
I don't do that much reading at home. I usually do it on the way to and from my part time job with the railways. I also do most of my first draft writing on the train.
Of late I have been involved in writing for live theatre. This has improved my ear for dialogue. Again though I do most of first draft writing for theatre on trains rather than at home. At home I smooth out the wrinkles.
Rod, Your comment reminds me of reflections of a lover - you can recite every past wonderful memory that led to the next! Thanks for your comment and much success in your "train writing" !
Reflections of a lover? well, maybe there is some truth in that.
It just struck me like: "First there was Amy's party where we met. We talked for hours that first night. We had a whirlwind romance those first six months and I asked her to marry me. It was Spring when ..."(I guess I'm in a nostolgic mood:)
The written word is fascinating. You might not be reading the right material. Maybe you just haven't found your genre yet. If you like to write then you're really missing out by not reading. Keep looking. I bet there's a reader just waiting to be let out! Great question!
Finding time to read sometimes becomes difficult, but I enjoy a good novel a few paragraphs at at a time just as I enjoy a good television series. You don't have to read it all at once. The benefits are well worth it. How can one write well if you don't read what others are writing about?
My writing did not significantly develop until I had become an avid reader. Reading prepares one for writing...
I love to read, and of course, it's not limited to fiction only. It's like I can't not read books, posts, signs, etc. The thing with reading is you can see, remember, analyze, apply, or recreate how the writers wrote the piece. It's not just the what, but also the how. I only occasionally read books on how-to-write stuff. Instead, I read the novels/books/posts and look at how the writer/s did it.
I have to agree that reading is an essential part of being a writer. That doesn't mean that every great writer was an avid reader, but it definitely helps. Writing is an art form, but there are still rules that govern it. You're able to read what I'm saying now because I'm using characters in a language you understand and creating necessary pauses using punctuation.
You can be a painter who doesn't look at other paintings, but you still have to use paint. Otherwise, you aren't a painter, you're something else. Reading just helps you familiarize yourself with the tools, which makes the process of writing that much easier to slip into. But it doesn't have to be just novels. We read every day from articles, emails, and legal documents, without even thinking about it. It's all about finding the one you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to read one you think you should be reading.
Thanks, M.T. You're right. It's not that I don't READ, per se. I just don't ALLOW myself to read for pleasure. The painting analogy is interesting and seems applicable to what several people in regard to analyzing the tools a writer uses. Cheers.
I'm an avid reader who writes for a living. I doubt I'd feel any urge to write down experiences, thoughts, knowledge I wish to share, or stories if I didn't like reading. Why would I do something, the product of which is something that holds no appeal to me? It would be like being a scent formulator who doesn't much care for fragrances. It would be like being a florist who doesn't enjoy looking at flower arrangements by other people and has no interest in flowers she will not be working with.
When I was a child and asked why, what, who, when, or how my mom went to one of the bookshelves in our home and looked up the answer if she didn't know it. If it wasn't in a book on those shelves, we went to the library where she showed me how to find the book with the answer in it. Imagine that, a place to find answers to questions without having to ask anyone! But I learned to read earlier than my first library trip. I learned I could have stories to envision without having someone serve the story to me aloud. What kid doesn't love stories?
Reading allows us to enjoy stories, learn new things, and answer our questions while helping us figure out which questions to ask next. What's not to love?
Anyway, I couldn't imagine enjoying a life without reading in it. People say the most clever and amazing things and I seem to desire a steady diet of them.
I don't know if it's possible to be a great writer who doesn't much enjoy what any other people have to write unless one is a genius of some sort. Maybe writing a lot more than average and getting verbal feedback on that writing could take the place of reading?
Kylyssa, It's interesting that you mentioned your mother and reading. My mother used to RECITE poetry to me that she had memorized in grade school: "The Village Blacksmith", "Hiawatha", "In Flanders Field" and "If" by Kipling. Great Comment
I really enjoyed reading your response to the question, really good job answering it. I am their with you, I don't just enjoy reading, I need to read. Nice!
I loved to read as a child and up to age 15, but now I hardly ever read for fun. I attribute part of that to schooling and more social life. I dont think that constantly reading is necessary to write well, but it probably would help. Im trying to get myself back into it!
Jessyca, Do you consider yourself an auditory person? By that I mean, do you get most of your information by radio? I have a theory about auditory learners. And by any chance, are you left-handed? (I have another theory about THAT and writing).
I consider myself to have a diverse learning style, and by that I mean I learn well in many ways. Reading words always sticks with me well, but so do pictures and audio. And sorry, but I am not left-handed! (although sometimes it's questionable!)
I am a non-reader. If I read something its because I am genuinely interested. I don't force myself to read either I want to or I just dont. Commonly, if I hear alot of talk about a specfic author/book/hub then I have to read to see if its worth all the talk. If it is I read the whole article/hub/book and try to figure out what I (as the reader) is suppose to leave with after reading it. If it's not I read the first 2 paragraphs and stop reading. I have improved my writing a little because of reading some hubs and seeing different opinions on subjects in the world. It's very easy to think of your idea as the only good idea.
I agree. Words are suppose to catch your attention. I love that poem as well its one of my favorites.
SilentMagenta, As I'm reading through all the comments here again, I can't see my response to your comment, and I was CERTAIN that I did respond. It was lost in the ethers, I guess. My apologies. So I'd like to thank you again, for your comments!
I write more than I read.
To say the truth, I only read interesting, engaging, and/or enlightening things. I won't say all my reading is done for pleasure or fun, but then, that's the idea.
If for one reason or another, I find myself enmeshed in reading something that I am beginning to find more and more less and less interesting, than I have no other option that to drop it and move on.
Well, my interest wanes so fast.
I know a good writer is supposed to also be a good reader but the truth is that I think I imagine more and better when I write than when I read.
Thanks Emmyboy. That's where I am. I DID find a discussion online where there were other writers who weren't avid readers. My mother recited so much poetry to me that I think I have to HEAR the rhythm of the words to enjoy them. Cheers, Billie
Have you ever tried audiobooks? They get great voice actors to read them.
Kylyssa, The audiobook is the only way I can get through a novel ! Thank goodness we took a trip last summer. My husband and I finished two on our way to MN and back. Thanks for the comment. I really should do more audiobooks.
I think it's tough to reach one's full potential as a writer without reading. Personally, I find that I write better during time periods when I am doing a significant amount of reading.
I love to read, but seem to never have enough time to read enough. I like the audio books sometimes, but it's not the same to me. I do believe the more you read the better your writing will be. It has helped me a lot. Hope this helps.
If you're not an avid reader for years before you start to refer to yourself - or have others refer to you - as a 'writer' then it's very doubtful you'll ever be any good at it. For it is in the reading of millions of other people's written words that you develop both your imagination and your vocabulary. You need both. Imagination is the 'Art' side of writing, whilst 'Vocabulary' is the craft. Both sides of the coin are of equal importance and you get them through...reading! reading! reading!
As World Champion public speaker, Darren LaCroix says about speaking to audiences: "Stage time! Stage time! Stage time!" to become excellent as a speaker, I say to you if you want to become a writer: "Write! Write! and Write! When you have a million or so words behind you you'll have actually developed a 'style.' Then, perhaps, you'll be able to claim that title of 'Writer.'
I`m a writer who loves reading because as long as we read more we will get more knowledge. Reading is better for a writer also, it gives ideas to write.
While I've been a reader all my life (and can testify that it is a monumental writing aid), I've known non-readers who forced themselves to read for the sake of their writing and it has served them very well.
Here is a partial comment by "protagonistics" on reddit in answer to "Any great authors who admitted to not reading much?":
"English major here! Despite some of the other comments here, there are numerous accounts of great authors who were arguably not well read throughout history. Now, to be fair, finding a novelist or writer of long works is rare. None come to mind immediately. However, throughout history, great authors have appeared who have created masterful, insightful works that exposed facets of the period in which they were written. Check out the Norton Anthology of English Literature for such examples as The Battle of Maldon.
One could also make the assertion that the further back in history one goes, the less "great" literature there was to read and therefore the less was read by great authors. So even saying that insinuating that to be a "great" author one has to be a reader becomes problematic." (protagonistic on reddit)
One has to question how much Shakespeare read. I don't know. Of course, Shakespeare was a playwright and poet which brings forth the question of the whether playwrights and poets are in a different category of writer. Perhaps they are more attuned to the spoken word than the written word.
However, the basis of all language development (except for deaf children) is hearing. (Of course deaf and hard of hearing children learn language in various visual ways. One might argue that Helen Keller was "reading" the English language from the fingers of Anne Sullivan). However, we don't start off life learning language by reading. We start becoming facile in language by hearing language. If we would transcribe a story of pre-reading child, or the ASL of a deaf child, we might find some great and delightful pieces of "literature".
Of course it can't be denied that learning to imitate or be inspired by the creative use of written language or of plot development by reading those who have a unique facility with those elements is enormously helpful to the aspiring writer. Is it imperative? Perhaps. However, after searching Steinbeck's quotes on becoming a good writer, I found much advice, but was hard pressed to find the "read, read, read" mandate. I think Steinbeck might just say "live, live, live".
http://www.diyauthor.com/john-steinbeck … ters-life/
I am most definitely a reader, although it has to be a book that catches my attention. if I am able to put the book down I more than likely won't pick it back up. Reading and writing are different for everyone. I normally don't end up writing in relation to something that I have read but more towards how I am feeling or something that I personally have experienced.
Frantz90, I never realized that if I "put a book down", I mostly likely won't pick it up again. I have never EVER been able to not put a book down. Thanks, Frantz, for that insight
Try reading a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel Billie Kelpin. You may have a problem putting one of his books down.
Rod, Thanks for the suggestion. Right now I'm in the middle of trying to promote our Martin Luther King, jr. page on our website b/c January and Feb. are when we get most visitors to our website. Oh, for the time...
Definitely a writer who reads and wishes she had time to read more. I tend to listen now more than read for the sheer reason that it frees me up to do other things. I wish I had enough hours in the day to sit down and read a good novel. The one thing that bugs me about reading a book, more than say watching a show, is that if you spend hours reading it and the ending sucks - that was hours of your life you can't get back. If it's just a show or movie, well that's at least less time wasted right? I do believe the more you read, the better you will write though.
True, true-time spent only to find a disappointing ending.That happened w a movie last wk.I was railing about the hours gone from my "brief moment of time" ("The Great Mandella) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpIh68K … Ih68Kh_-s#
Yes, writers, including me, will tell you that reading is necessary. However, I do not know that forcing oneself is a good idea. In my case, I hardly read now, but I started when I was about 4 years old. I was also very interested in different genres.
Actually, I tell people to read not only because great writers say so, but because I realised a long time ago, that it sort of stays with you, to the extent that it returns many years later, while one is practising one's craft. So reading prepares you. If the background is missing, them obviously you will need to choose something that you like. Practically all writers love to write. The inner joy is paramount to your success.
Mind you. listening, or the radio can help also. We are all different. I know people who are pretty bad at grammar but are excellent story-tellers. So they just need some help with editing. Some people are great at grammar but lousy writers. Follow your inner voice. Nothing is fixed in God's creation, although if you want to write, then it helps if you like writing also.
I read very little nowadays. I have an intuitive mind because of meditation, and with my past background, ideas flow easily. I wish you luck. Much peace.
Anyone who says a good reader can become a good writer is absolutely correct. I've noticed that when I read more, the quality of my writing improves. But it's not just about reading in general - not all reading material will improve your writing.
The link between good reading and writing is a mixture of several things, but reading an inherently bad novel *coughFiftyShadescough* will do nothing for your writing abilities.
I sometimes try to push my way through a lousy but popular novel to try to distill what made it so popular despite the writing.
Raceme, I really have to take all of this advice. I did download "The Giver" (young adult book) because I was fascinated with the movie we just rented. However, I stopped on the first page, not because it wasn't wonderful, but because of..? no idea
I am a writer who reads. I read avidly. I want to know what others in my genre are writing. I read about writing. I want to be better at my craft. I read because I enjoy reading. I have always been a reader.
Yes, a good skill of a writer is to read as well and a good skill to communicate or speak well you need tobe a good listener too..
Thanks for your comment growithme! Having been in the field of deaf education, the correlation between speech and hearing is a solid correlation.
Oh good to know you are in deaf education service its a work for social cause too...
Growithme, To clarify, I USED to be a teacher of the deaf and sign language interpreter, but I haven't done any work in that field for years. Deaf ed. taught me, however, the complicated and AMAZING ability of humankind's facility with language.
I am a writer who reads because not only do I like reading I also enjoy other peoples writing styles and see what I can use which compliments my writing style. I believe catagorically that you can't write if you don't read.
one2get2no, Thanks for your comment. Last year, I think I read 1 book, and I can't even tell you what it was.I do write essays, short stories, and some how-to pieces here. I've been a professional writing tutor, but I need to listen to this advice
Great people of the age were famous for wisdom besides some other god gifted qualities. Strong sense of observation enhance the effectiveness of ones knowledge. Alone reading, in my opinion doesn't serve the purpose.
Iskhoso, Your view that reading, alone, "doesn't serve the purpose" makes a great deal of sense. We need to incorporate all aspects of language to produce believable language output. Dialog, I think, is mastered by those who listen closely
I agree that careful listening is great virtue.
Reading is an important component for a writer as it helps us explore the depths of imagination. Reading can be present in different forms. And it definitely helps improve your writing.
shihara marcar Thank you for your comment especially that "reading can be present in different forms". I wonder if, for auditory learners, LISTENING to literature, the radio,and even watching movies and TV is a form of reading. I know it is for me.
I mix watching of documentaries, listening to radio programmes and some slight reading
No I do not read either. I really relate to what you are saying here. I can never sit down and for good reason - for one thing I have ADD and my attention span is screwed up. I start reading and I have to read the same sentence about 3 - 4 times just to understand what the hell I am reading. It pisses me off because it will take me 3 - 4 times to read the book. I also now know that there are different ways people learn and reading is not one of mine. I learn by listening and/or watching and by doing. I count me in as one of your peeps because I definitely identify. Have a great day...
Ah, a true writing soulmate. YAY! I was beginning to think I was crazy. My attention goes off in 29 directions at once. I have to read the same sentence 3-4 times also! PLUS, I need to HEAR every word in my head so I can't read faster than talk
I don't know how anyone can be a truly good writer without also being a reader. I have learned so much about life, and people and places through reading that shape my perspectives. Also, reading the different ways authors communicate has taught me much on how to be a better writer. Writer's and reader's are lovers of words. I may be wrong, but I don't know how you can be a writer without being a reader.
Lambservant, Thank you for your comment. I really don't "read" in the sense that most people imply. I am in love with words, but not the printed word as much as the spoken. I tried last night to pick up a book my daughter gave me - never happened.
I am a writer that reads and reads voraciously. I believe that the main components to being a good, no excellent, writer is reading in addition to life experiences. These two components add veracity and credibility to a writer. One needs both to be a writer that the audience takes seriously. A writer who only reads is only a pedantic regurgitator while a writer with only life experience is quite unsubstantial to say the least.
I disagree with the idea that avid reading is a requirement for good writing. Certainly, one needs to become fluent in a topic of choice and a communication style of delivery, but good writing can be developed as a skill even without delving into books. The opposite is also true - one can be a vociferous reader and a horrible writer if the art is not practiced.
That said, I am most definitely a reader who writes (NOT a writer who reads). Books are one of my few loves, and I read just about everything I can find. My joy for the written word has made writing come easier to me, but even though I write I still would not consider myself a "writer". I am working toward becoming one, but in the past I've lacked the practice, patience, and discipline it takes to see a writing project through to completion.
K Murphey,Thank you! Your statement in the first paragraph and its converse seem logical to me. In addition, even before the printing press and availability of books, I do think oral storytellers were probably "writers", so to speak. (padon the pun).
I read read read....most of the time it is after midnight or in the wee hours if I wake up.
Maybe you just haven't found a writer whose work you really become engrossed in yet. Sometimes you just have to find some work by someone whose work is a 'page turner'. That might be the beginning of your immersion in reading. I can see that you get info from listening but you might be surprised how transported you are via a novel.
Not intent here to convert you to reading...everyone has their own way...you just might be surprised if you find the one author who really makes an impression.
Reading is my great time of the day and without reading I don't believe anyone will accomplish a proper style of writing. Knowledge is improved, grammar and new words are learned. It is a must to read. I am a writer and a reader.
It was my obsessive love of reading that drew me into writing. However, I believe those meant to write have the stories swimming around in their heads and they don't stop until they're written. That being said, reading, especially in the genre that you write, helps you to formulate your sentences and stories better.
I read your profile. I HAVE to try "Always" and your book of poems when done. It was fascinating to read that you have "stories running around in your head like movies" and thought everyone had. That is TRULY a blessing. Thank you for your comment!
Billie, you've made my day, and I also looked at your profile and absolutely had to follow you. I write childrens books too, but you're so much more knowledgable about the subject. Glad to have you for a friend.
I constantly read. I can only really read huge novels or books of at least 200/300 pages or more. I can read that in a 700 page book with small print in a couple hours, but I have always loved reading. I feel it helps writers see how to form a story easier and see other writers mistakes or growth. It helps show what you do and do not want your writings to look like. I feel it helps you grow just as much as constantly writing helps you grow. It helps to see others mistakes, might open your eyes to your own that you want to work on and how to work on them. Listening to books though would be as helpful, it's kind of the same, just its vocal instead of visual.
I am a writer who reads and loves it. According to Stephen King someone who does not read does not have the tools necessary to write.
I used to read a lot, but these past few years I've really been slacking on novels that aren't the perennials (I tend to pick up "Swallowing Stones" by Joyce McDonald and "Santiago" by Mike Resnick at least once a year).
Having to watch a new TV show or movie several times every two weeks while having an actual job doesn't leave me much time for a lot of other activities.
For me I really enjoy reading novels and getting lost in the characters and their lives, and yes I think this does improve my writing. I've been part of a small book club for years now so I have access to many different genres too. This just makes reading even more interesting.
Writing and reading go hand in hand as far as I'm concerned but who said it has to be novels? Isn't reading a newspaper or magazine 'reading'? These days we have the internet too so I think more people read now than ever before. To be honest Billie, if you enjoy writing it really doesn't matter whether you read novels or not.
MPG, Thanks so much for your comment! A "great writer" in many people's minds means a great NOVEL writer. But Emerson, Gibran move me in their essays without setting, characters, or plo. So maybe reading in the genre you write is the most important.
I am a very avid reader. I actually started and continue to run a volunteer library in my home town so I have access to so many books, it is wonderful.
lordraven2000 - what a neat thing to do! You just gaused me to have a flashback of the library in the basement of our little Catholic School, Holy Rosary, in Milwaukee. I loved the smell of the books and used to read Father Finn books for boys (!)
A normal person has only a one life to live, while a reader lives a thousand lives. Reading builds up experiences and opens up your eyes to things you would have never thought about before, so I guess this is why more reading is accompained with a more developed writing. Maybe you haven't found YOUR book yet, but when you do it'll open many doors for you, just make sure to keep looking!
I'm not sure if anyone else has already said this or not, but audiobooks are great for people who like literature but aren't visual learners. Librevox has a huge selection of public domain works and there are tons of people on youtube out there reading audiobooks or works from unpublished authors. If you liked horror (I notice that you mentioned Stephen King) you should listen to MrCreepyPasta on youtube; he reads a lot of short horror stories.
As for me, I read quite a lot, I've only got a few hubs, but I intend to do some more book reviews. But since I lost my job I've had a lot more free time to read, so I totally understand what it's like NOT to be able to do that because you're so busy. I used to listen to audiobooks on the drive to and from work or to and from school, just as a way to get through stories I wanted to know, but didn't have the time or patience to read. So I'd really recommend going that route!
I love to read, unfortunately I don't have time to do it as much as I'd like between work, home, kids, yard, etc...
I have made it one of my New Year's resolutions to read more books in 2015 and I'm already on my second one, so I'm off to a good start.
I used to read a lot of horror/fantasy fiction but lately I've been reading a lot more non-fiction ... lots of books about film and music...movie history, biographies of musicians/film producers/directors/performers, etc.
I do believe that being an avid reader can only help one's writing, however I don't think it's a requirement.
Whew, my New Year's Resolution would be to finish ONE book! Biographies of producers/directors/performers...so perhaps you perform as well ! Thanks for the reassurance that reading helps writing but is not necessarily a requirement.
No, I'm not a performer...just a movie/music nerd who likes to soak up as much trivia as possible. Haha
Just noticed your music tastes. My husband's son was in a band called "Power Nap on Satan's Floor" He is a sound engineer now and has a credit on Def Tones and a few others.I think he likes all the bands you write about. I'll send him to your pages
A great New Year's Resolution, Fat Freddy. I'm going to borrow that one and add it onto my New Year's Res list!
Yes I am, I have a Question To u, Can u Answer The One ???? I challenged u, U cant answer that,
I do read but not a lot like my mother. I am the type of writer who likes to make the comments of what a subject is. I like to give my opinion.
I read constantly. I try to read whenever I can, and I read for school and for fun. I've always been a reader.
Well I am a writer who reads but I don't believe that we need to read before we write. We simply need inspiration before we write something and we get these inspiration from around us not from books.
falak munaf, Thank you so much for your comment. Inspiration is a wondrous thing. We can't predict when it hits or where or why. The book "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi speaks of that. At least from the few pages I read of that book Cheers
Billie surely it is! Well I will read "Flow" and I will let you know if it is really about inspiration or not
Falak, I do agree with you. Writers need inspiration, and for many, reading is that way to get inspiration. Good answer!
I am a reader. It has helped me greatly. Seeing other writers work and example.
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