Jon Gibbs (jongibbs) wrote,
Jon Gibbs

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Should writers be readers too?

Like most folks, writers lead busy lives. Most of us have other commitments (work, family etc.) which eat into our potential writing time. Sooner or later, we decide to cut back on some of our non-essential activities, like watching TV, feeding the children, going to the movies etc. in order to can spend more hours slaving away over the hot keyboard, working on our latest, shiny WiP.

Okay, maybe we don’t cut back on all those things (I for one will never give up watching the telly), but before we started writing, we all filled our days with something. If we want to satisfy our writerly passion, it’s only logical that something has to go.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to free up some time is to give up reading. After all, a single book can take up many hours, which would be better spent pursuing out dream of seeing our own work in print. Or would it?

Stephen King certainly doesn’t think so.

‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t
have the time (or the tools) to write’

I think he makes a valid, if somewhat blunt, argument. We can learn an awful lot from folks who made it further along the publishing chain – especially those folks who are newly published by the big houses (assuming they aren’t related to the owner). Doesn’t it make sense to study successful newcomers? By trying to figure out what they did right, we can perhaps apply something extra to our own work, perhaps improving our own chances of acceptance.

I don’t think we should limit our reading to our chosen genre either, though it makes sense to read those books too.

Speaking for myself, I find I approach reading differently since I caught the writing bug. It’s still fun, of course, but now I find myself stopping to take notes as I go: ‘Great plot twist? Check to see how he/she planted the seeds for it earlier in the book’; ‘I really like this character. Why?’; ‘I skipped over this part. What put me off?’ etc.

I’m not convinced writers have to read in order to be successful, but I’m pretty sure by studying what works/doesn’t work in books written by newly-published authors (especially those in the big six), we can do our own writing no end of good.

How about you?

Do you think writers need to read?

Poll #1852372 Do you think writers need to read?

Stephen King says: ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write’ What do you think?

Absotively! I agree 100%
I’m sure writers could succeed without reading other books, but they’re making things harder for themselves
Read, shmead. It can’t hurt, but if you don’t have time, focus on writing
Something else, which I’ll mention in the comments

Tags: fiction, stephen king, writing

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