One piece of advice seasoned and successful writers like to give to fellow writers is “Read. A lot.”
Hold on there. I’m a writer. Why should I spend my precious, limited time on reading? I want to WRITE, for crying out loud, so that people will have something to read by ME!
Well, Writer, here’s a quote by author Stephen King that should clear things up:
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot … reading is the creative center of a writer’s life … you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.
(Ah, Stephen. I’ll never read your scary books, but you sure say some great things about the writing life.)
I spent a good amount of time this summer reading for pleasure.
Often, after I closed the page of a particularly wonderful book, I thought to myself, “Darla, the world doesn’t need another author, another novel, another word. It already has enough great books written by great writers. You just read one. Now, get out of the way.”
Then I’d snap out of it, laugh at myself, and think about how the author who earned my envy probably had the same thought when he read a particularly wonderful book.
My goal is not to be the best writer.
My goal is to give my best as a writer.
When I focus on this, there’s no pressure of competition. There’s only disappointment or satisfaction in my work, and both of these are under my control.
I was swept away by 14 books this summer:
Children and dogs. Autobiographies and classics. Science fiction and fantasy. Lifted into heaven and dragged through an earthly hell.
Swept away by a story — all for the writer to provide, and all for the reader to experience and enjoy.
Yes, Stephen. I shall read.