Are you a writer? Don’t neglect your reading – guest post at Writers Helping Writers

writershelpingIt’s always a struggle to find time to write. If you’ve got a book in progress, it’s tempting to spend all your free moments on it. But don’t sacrifice time that you would usually spend reading. It’s a false economy.

Similarly, don’t fear that your reading is going to influence your work to a detrimental extent, or that you might end up copying ideas. The chances are you won’t. Your book is much bigger in your mind than anything you read, or watch, or any conversation you overhear. Any influence will be minor by comparison with the huge amount of work you’ve already done.

But if you stop reading while you write your book you might lose touch with the way prose tells stories, and you won’t be using your ideas to their maximum potential. We do many things on instinct, and those instincts are learned unconciously. Reading feeds our muse and our technique.

Today I’m at the wonderful Writers Helping Writers site, run by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Emotion Thesaurus fame. They’ve devised a series of writing lectures this year and have invited various coaches to be regular contributors, and I’m honoured to be on their list (note that nice award they have from Writer’s Digest). And because I wrote the piece as the year was turning, my mind was operating in resolution mode. If I was to identify a change that I’d urge writers to make, what should it be? Many of my author clients would do their work a world of good by reading more, but it’s  job to persuade them. So here’s my persuasion. Do hop over.

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  1. #1 by tracikenworth on January 15, 2017 - 10:42 pm

    A gold mine of advice, Roz!

  2. #3 by Beth Honeycutt on January 16, 2017 - 2:32 am

    Thank you Roz, for just enough of a push to make me agree to move beyond complacent excuses about what I spend time on in between my periods of writing. I DO love a good story! Your suggestion to keep reading so as not to lose touch “with the way prose tells stories” is great, and I appreciate your following up in the further column by advising writers to really take note of those stories that grab us. I imagine it is that intent to remain alert to and aware of what takes hold of me as I read that will help me in my continued writing.Your advice holds true for novelists as well as poets. Thank you again.

    • #4 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 16, 2017 - 7:38 am

      Hi Beth! Yes, it certainly applies to poets as well as novelists! Enjoy the fruits of your new regime.

  3. #5 by The Owl Lady on January 16, 2017 - 12:55 pm

    Reblogged this on The Owl Lady.

  4. #6 by Don Massenzio on January 16, 2017 - 4:17 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here’s a great post from the Nail Your Novel blog that stresses the importance of reading for authors

  5. #7 by J.R. Handley on January 16, 2017 - 8:25 pm

    I do worry I might inadvertently use other peoples ideas… good to know I wasn’t the only one worried about this.

  6. #10 by Phillip T Stephens on January 17, 2017 - 4:30 am

    Reading widely creates influences, not plagiarism. Copying passages directly from an author and including it in your work without attribution creates plagiarism. I recognize the influence of writers such as Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, Saul Bellow, and Doris Lessing have upon my own ideas and writing. Reading Hemingway, Faulkner and Twain taught me techniques I still use. Reading science fiction influences how I frame my writing in thrillers and dark fantasy. Even the Bible taught me a great deal about structuring stories, not to mention helping me understand how it influences American culture.

    Write a thousand words a day? Read at least a chapter, or an article. Best of all from a book or magazine you wouldn’t consider in your field of interest. You’d be surprised how much you learn and how much it helps your writing.

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