Monday, 24 March 2014

Reading: Does It Help You As A Writer?

(Both found here)

Reading: Does It Help You As A Writer?

When I was a kid, I was tested, as were the majority of children back then (and still are now), to see where my reading level was. I wasn't told of the results until I was older because my parents didn't want me to get picked on or for me to think I was better than the people in my class. My reading age at seven was that of a nine year old, as was my writing age. Since then, it kept on getting better. By the time I was fourteen, I was going with my best friend to the local library every Friday, where we'd check out sixteen books to read during the week. I'd devour them all, young adult, adult, crime, mystery, drama, whatever they were I would read them and adore everything I could find.

My life has changed a lot since then. I don't go to the library as much, but books are still a BIG part of my every day life and I don't see that ever stopping. I own a Kindle and can usually be found in the evenings, curled up in bed,
reading a good book while I wait for my pain meds to kick in. Or a bad book. To be honest, I'll probably read anything once just to see what I think. As a writer, reading is important and sometimes you can get just as much information on what you want to write from a bad book as you can from a good one. It's all subjective anyway, but you see what I'm saying.

I'm sure you've probably guessed by now that I like crime and mystery books, but I like romance too, as well as other genres. I'll read adult books or young adult books. I'm not too fussed, so long as the content is enjoyable, then I don't care who has written it and what the reviews are. I just have to read. I have to have a book to sit down with - on Kindle or in paperback - to spend time away from the worlds I've created and immerse myself in someone else's worlds and creations. I personally don't think there is anything much better than a book, a cat to curl up with and a nice cup of tea and if I wasn't also driven to write, then I'd probably spend my days doing just that.

But I do have an urge to write. So, how does being an avid reader help me as a writer? After all, isn't the point of fiction writing to spend time creating your own characters, your own plot lines, and your own worlds? Why do you want to spend valuable writing time hanging around with someone else's work? The answer is simple. To learn. To be inspired. To enjoy and grow as both a reader AND a writer. I'm not for one moment suggesting taking someone else's plot, characters and work and passing it off as your own, or even dabbling in their sandbox without permission, because that's not what original writing is about.

Putting it simply, when you want to draw a fruit bowl or take a certain picture, you'll look at the way other people have drawn them, you'll look at the way they've used lighting and the materials they've used to bring out the best image. You won't just take what they've drawn and write your name at the bottom, but you will, in a way, imitate as you learn to find your own footing in that work. The same can be said about reading and writing. You're not reading and then typing out the work letter by letter, you're reading to give you some idea how you can create a scene in that manner, and the way you can bring about tension without anyone speaking. You're using what you read to help you to find a way to tell your own story in your own way.

For that reason, being an avid reader will only go on to help you write. It will inspire you when you read a scene and think, "I like it, but what if this happened instead, what would that character's reaction be?" or "No, I'd do it like this because this character would be thinking a different thought" or "You can tell from the way they look at each other, the very words the author has used to show how they feel without either of them having to say anything." It will help you grow as a writer, as you find your own footing and move onto your own work. Reading is a great tool and something that all writers should use to help them create in their own way. Who knows, maybe one day it'll be your work that an aspiring writer reads that sparks their own ideas and starts them on the journey to being a writer.

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