Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.
Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!
This month's question is: It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?
I seem to have something to say on this question...
To me, writing without reading is like running without first learning to walk. Reading and writing go together like soil and plants. Inotherwords, I think it's pretty impossible not to have one without the other, they are intertwined. We learn our letters and we learn how to write them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to read them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to put them together into words that form sentences which teaches us how to read. In learning to read words, we learn the best way to put those words together. The more we read the better we get at putting words together. Music works much the same way. All musicians are influenced by what has gone before. All writers are influenced by what has gone before.
If we want to be good writers I think it stands to reason that we must seek out good writers to read. It's true that not all of us will like every good writer. As an example, I'm not a fan of Hemmingway, but I love Steinbeck. And yes, for a while, I wanted very much to write like Steinbeck and made vain attempts to copy his "style." But if we read enough and we write enough eventually we find our own voices, our own styles.
To not read for fear that your ideas won't be original is, in my mind, a kind of lie. All stories have at their root a few basic themes. Shakespeare did a very good job at showing us how to manipulate those basic themes - comedy, tragedy, revenge, love, fear, longing etc. - and write different stories around those themes. The stories we make up using those themes as our foundation are just as unlimited as the arrangement of 26 letters into words.
|The first page of Chaucer's |
Out of 8 notes, we get everything from Classical music to jazz to rock to country and everything in between. Out of 26 letters we get everything from Shakespeare to comic books and everything in between.
If one never listens to music how will one learn about all the different ways those 8 notes can be put together? How will one know that repeating the same arrangement of notes over and over and over will be dull and boring to ears with a broader exposure? If one never reads how will one know that writing the same arrangement of words over and over and over will be boring to eyes with a broader exposure?
Read. Write. Expose yourself to all the possibilities. Those possibilities will open the door to new possibilities and your own original ideas will emerge. Having an idea, you will arrange 26 letters in your own original way and tell a story around one of the ancient themes that is unique to you.
Today I am thankful for Robyn Campbell, who died suddenly and unexpectedly this past week-end.
Robyn was among that first group of people to follow my blog.
She read all three of my books and gave me feed-back.
She encouraged and supported my efforts.
I know she will be missed by many. Most particularly her family.
I posted this picture on her Facebook page for her birthday,
which was just a few days before she died.
She never got to see it.
What are you thankful for? Did you know Robyn? Do you think reading is important for the improvement of your writing?