I am often surprised to meet writers who do not read a lot. It confuses me on a few levels.
Firstly, if you don’t read, who do you think is going to read what you WRITE?
Secondly, if you don’t read, how do you know anything about writing?
And thirdly, if you don’t read how do you know what to write about?
It’s true there is nothing new under the sun, but it is also true that it is a colossal waste of time to write about something that has already been done over and over and over. If you don’t read, you’ll never know where the gaps are, the differences, the opportunities.
We are not born with a writing voice. It emerges. It emerges through our experiences of life, from what influences us, from what we read and what we write.
Reading gives you balance and perspective, it can save you from being a self-righteous ass and an ignorant buffoon.
Reading gives you time to be alone with nothing more than YOUR thoughts, exploring worlds that were, that might be or could never ever be. And it teaches you how to tell the difference.
By just reading you can educate and improve yourself. You can answer almost any question you care to think of and you learn to be discerning, self-powered and proactive.
Today, everything is shorter, faster, simpler and easier. We turn to the short, the simple and the easy when we’re looking to solutions. But with writing, it’s not that easy. It’s true, you could write something fast, simple, easy and short. But it would very probably not be true. It would also last about as long as the career lifespan of your average Idols winner.
If you want to write you must first READ!
Not just your twitter feed, although that’s a good place to start. Read your idols, read ABOUT them. Find out who influenced them, then go and read those people too. Musicians, poets, authors, scientists. They all come from a wide, extended web of influences and shared ideas. It’s just not possible to drop, clean, new and unconscious onto such a web and survive.
Follow the trains of thoughts back to the stations they came from as well as to their destinations. Don’t be satisfied with the quick, current explanations. Find out who did the original version of the cover of the cover that you hear on the radio.
In this fast changing world, stand out a little. Know more, READ!