It’s been a while since I posted some advice, but seeing as the year is still young, I figured now would be as good a time as any to share a bit of advice I recently rediscovered.
Not just this blog (though, I am pleased as a purple python in Peru that you’re reading my blog), but magazines, newspapers, novels, poems, mysteries, romances, flash fiction, fan fiction, etc. Just read, everyday. Never stop reading.
Because the moment you stop reading, you stop writing.
This is not to say that all readers are writers, but it is to say that any writer worth their weight in paperback novels is a reader. It is as much a part of the craft of writing as learning good sentence syntax and how to spell check a document. The reason for the need for all writers to also be readers is simple: both are acts of communication.
A lot of study has gone into understanding writing and reading as acts of communication, so I will not rehash them again for you here (instead, please find your local English Department or Literary theorist – the Structuralists and Post-Structuralists are a hoot – for more information). What is important to understand is that as a writer, you learn from observations of others and by making observations of yourself. While reading, we can study the techniques of others, the observations they have made, and what observations we make in response to them. In this way, we take part in a larger conversation, a literary one that can stretch far into the very beginnings of human communication and even beyond.
That being said, I encourage you read what you love along with the “Masters.” By “Masters” I mean those illustrious individuals who have become the foundation for the literary arts as well as the measuring stick by which all writers are thereby judged. You know, those “dead” and “not-so-dead” authors who are mandatory reading for any high school student and/or freshman English major. Take your teachers advice: read them and study them
But don’t forget what got you into reading in the first place. If you love paperback romances that contain more clichés then a Saturday Morning Cartoon Show, then read them. If you love comic books with tight-wearing super heroes, read them. If you adore the “Masters,” read them more!
At the end of the day, what will get you to your writing desk, lap, chair, café, what-have-you, is what you love. More than fame, fortune, or the pursuit of the perfect novel, love for what you do and the work of others in your field will get you going and keep you going for years to come.