My writer friends and I often talk about the tools we’ve discovered to actually help us put words on a page. Those tools range everything from hardware to software, pens to moleskine journals, settings to environments, snacks to libations. I’ve been singing the praises of a few of my writing tools here in a series of posts. You can revisit posts on hardware, software, references & resources, accouterments and some of my social media tools.
This installment of the tools that help my writing heart tick will be a little different. With this one I’m really going to promote a discipline more than things. Reading. People who are a lot smarter than me have said if you want to write you need to excel at reading. Lest you think I’m kidding:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King
“Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.” ― William Faulkner
Think I’m kidding? Erasmus is considered one of the great human minds of all time. What did he think of reading? “When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus
Personally, I have tended to practice the Faulkner quote above. I woke up to the reality a few years back that the only books I was reading were those recommended to me because they would gel with my wiring and thinking. In other words, I’d find kinship with the author, the subject matter or story. I made an intentional change. I started reading different points of view, different styles and voices. I picked up some genres I’d never read before. And I believe my writing craft has grown for it.
I’d encourage you, make time in your day–every day–for some reading. Your writing will benefit.
In case you’re curious, here are a handful of titles I’ve read in the past twelve months (some of which I’d recommend, others which I would not!) to give you an idea of the diversity: Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin), Platform (Michael Hyatt), Aesop’s Fables, Love is an Orientation (Andrew Marin), Off Magazine Street (Ronald Capps), Atlas of the Human Heart (Ariel Gore), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle).
What are you reading these days? What reading has fed your writing life recently?