Probably the number one tip that writers give other writers to improve their writing is to read.
“Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot. 2. Write a lot. 3. Read a lot more, write a lot more.”
This is something I don’t do enough of. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading. I used to read voraciously. But it just doesn’t happen as much any more, despite my best efforts.
If I may offer some excuses, part of the problem is time. Reading takes a lot of time, and while it is enjoyable time for sure, my mind is always going a million miles a minute and thinks at any particular moment that my time would be better spent writing or getting something accomplished. (Now, oftentimes, I may think this and then not do anything productive for an hour, so you’d think I could use that time to read instead. Sometimes my mind disagrees.) There’s a lot of things I do, and a lot of things I want to do in a day, and reading sometimes gets pushed to the back burner.
But it shouldn’t. I have shelves of books I haven’t read yet that I want to read, that I should read, that I have to read. It’s important for my development as a writer, for research, for enjoyment, for culture.
But of course, I do read — a lot, actually. I read all of my peers’ work for all four of my workshops (which I once calculated as somewhere around close to a thousand pages over the school year). That’s a lot of educational, informative reading. But it doesn’t lessen my pile of reading I want to do.
Two days ago, I finally took the time to sit and read for a few hours. I finished a book I’d started two months ago. It was really good — spectacular, even, inspiring. It made me realize that I really do need to read more, I need to take the time to read more, I need to make the time to read more. So I’ve resolved to do that. I’m going to start a new book soon and read it whenever I can.
All I need to do first is finish my writing assignment for the week, check out a couple blogs, go to class, work on my novel…