Should writers also be readers?

30 Jun


Image courtesy of Marin/

The last book I read was Gone Girl, which was just fantastic. Great style, great twists, really did it for me. Trouble was, I stole a few hours from my writing schedule to read it. I know I shouldn’t have, but it was so good, I just couldn’t put it down. And it made me want to reach for my next read straight away. I am already halfway through Killing Me Softly by Nicci French, another book I can’t put down.

I used to read all the time. I spent far more time reading than writing. But that was partly because I was commuting to work every day, and what better to do on the tube than read? Since I had my children, I’ve read a lot less. In fact, it took me a couple of years to finish reading The Thread by Victoria Hislop. Not because I didn’t love it, but because I find it hard to commit to a chunky book the way I used to, knowing that I don’t have hours at a time to devote to it.

I’m making a reading comeback though. Last year, I set myself a modest goal on reader’s website Goodreads. I decided that I would read 10 books by the end of 2013. As someone who likes to tick things off lists, I felt strangely pleased when I met that goal. This year, I’ve set a goal of 15 books and I’m already 8 wonderful, delicious reads down. The more I read, the more I want to read. And the more I want to write too, because reading good books is so inspiring. Reading bad books can be useful too. When something about the book doesn’t quite click, I like to try and work out what it is, so that I can avoid making similar mistakes in my own writing. Luckily I have excellent taste (or just plain luck), and all the books I’ve read so far this year have been corkers.

I’ve heard writers who say they are too busy to read, and if I’m honest, I was one of them for a while, but I think I’m past that now. As I work on making writing my career, I know that reading needs to be an important, yet enjoyable part of my work.  A good story haunts you. It forces you to think about it, long after you’ve put the book down. Without reading, I think it would be hard to grow as a writer.

How much do you read? Do you find that reading interferes with your writing schedule, or does it enhance it?



6 Responses to “Should writers also be readers?”

  1. rami ungar the writer June 30, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    I have less time to read now than I did, and it bugs me. I wish I could just set aside more time for reading, but with life the way it is, who can afford it?

  2. TAWilliams June 30, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    I try to read every chance I get. I believe reading different writer’s styles helps me refresh & improves my writing!

  3. theparasiteguy July 1, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    I aim to read on most days, personally. I didn’t read nearly as much as I should have done when I was younger, so I see it as making up for lost time more than anything else. Besides, I’m still pretty new to this whole “writing” thing, so I find that reading helps me to work out what does/doesn’t work.

  4. Lorna's Voice July 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    I read something every night before I go to sleep. I read not only for content, but for style and what tips. What worked in the book? What didn’t? How did the author start the story, how did the plot progress (or not)? Did the author use mainly dialog? Did it feel real? What made it feel real? I kind of scrutinize what I read as I’m reading. Thankfully, my writing research doesn’t interfere with the joy I find in reading. And I loved Gone Girl, too. What a ride of a read that was!

  5. wordfoolery July 14, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I read everyday, and yes I find Goodreads is focusing me too. Some of what I read is just for fun, some is in my own genres, some for research, but mostly it’s because I love to read. I’d be pretty careful not to give up writing time to it though – that’s a sure way to miss deadlines.

  6. M. Talmage Moorehead September 28, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    I don’t read as much fiction as I need to. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s that simple.”

    I know he’s right, but I find it rare to come across a novel that gives me more energy than it takes. That’s because I’m a subvocalizing troglodyte from Mars. It’s not the problem of the writers.

    Best of luck on your writing career. I just “finished” writing my first e-book on “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.” I’m giving it away in exchange for email addresses on my blog. I’ve read that it’s important to collect email addresses and that a free ebook is a decent way to do it, but I just read somewhere else that the email addresses don’t mean much unless they come from people who actually read and liked your fiction. Dang! 😉 The guy who wrote that said that if he had to do it over, he would post his own fiction on his blog and try to get email addresses that way. I was already doing that, so maybe it will work out.

    Now I need to find a good for-hire editor. Do you have one that you would highly recommend?

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