I’ve been writing on the theme of doing more to make more happen for a few weeks now, and here’s little more fanning for that flame:
Not only should I be taking the time to write about writing to make myself write more, but I should also be reading more. Reading both validates the importance of putting words on paper (or, rather, typing them on a screen) and inspires you to write more.
I remember being in high school and a friend of mine told me he wanted to be a writer. I asked him who his favorite authors were and he said he didn’t have any. He not only didn’t like reading, but he actively avoided it. I wondered if there was something wrong with me (which is the natural reaction of all teenagers to everything) for thinking you needed to love reading to love writing.
Well, he’s not a writer and I am. So in this case study, loving to read makes you 100 percent more likely to succeed at writing that hating to read. That said, I believe it’s as important to be reading the right things as it is reading at all.
For me, the best author for me to read for writing inspiration is John Irving. I love John Irving. I hang on every stinking word he writes. Now, perhaps this shouldn’t be true, as he’s a fiction writer and I’m a non-fiction writer, and the clear, distinct voice in which he writes is notably different than mine. However, what I find every single time I read an Irving book is that I see how my writing makes sense through the lens of his work. Though his books are complicated family sagas that are in style and content entirely different than anything I do, he does write very openly and personally. There’s a certain self-exposure in his fiction that feels like a memoirist or essayist, and therefore relates to my style. His voice may be different than mine, but we write with a similar cadence and with a hint of overlap in tone. Irving’s narrative voice is the a voice with whom I can imagine mine having a conversation. That’s why reading it compels me to write. To continue the imaginary conversation.
So yes, make time to read. I’ll put that in right between the eating and working, right after the writing about writing, and immediately before sleeping. Which is fun to do sometimes too.