This conversation has come up a million times since I started really trying to write for a living. I talk to all sorts of people all the way from those who never read while in the midst of a writing project, to those who make reading a part of their daily routine even in the thick of writing their ms.
I find myself somewhere in between. I am a voracious reader. You put a good book in my hands, I will tear through it in no time at all. Sometimes in a few hours. That's how I've always been. I remember reading until midnight (GASP!) underneath my covers with a flashlight when I was in elementary school. All of the classics of course, RL Stine's Fear Street, Sweet Valley High, Babysitter's Club, and all of Roald Dahl's masterpieces.
I've always loved reading, which only makes sense as to why I want to be a writer. But lately I've noticed that the one thing that inspired me to want to be a writer is the one thing that I put on the backburner. I don't have time to read. I have to blog, and procrastinate on Twitter, critique and oh, yeah, write. All of those writerly things that are going to make me a real, live writer one day.
But ironically enough, I've noticed that when I'm not doing much reading, my own words dry up and POOF! they're gone. I mean, it's not rocket science we're talking about here. Besides the fact that you can learn so much from reading a story that you find yourself completely immersed in, as writers, we can see first hand the techniques the author uses that work, what doesn't work well, ways to add more depth to our writing, and so much more.
Funny thing is, I tell my 4th graders all the time, "Good writers read more than they write." Shouldn't this be true. In order to know how to make a YA book have that edge that's going to grab an agent/publisher's attention, we should be constantly reading the latest YA books. In order for me to write a believable MG book, I've got to read first hand what those 9-12 year olds love to read.
There's a hundred reasons why writers don't read as much as we should. There's never enough time. We're constantly worried that we might steal a plot idea, character name, beautiful sentence or idea. We get so caught up in these things that we forget that in order to become a better writer, we should be reading just as much if not more. So, I've decided that even in the thick of trying to get my ms finished, I will make time every day to read a wide range of books.
When I decided to write about this topic I googled: Best advice for writers. This is the first link that popped up.
Leave me a comment and tell me about your reading habits. And just for fun, what's the last book you read? I just finished Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. Brilliant of course.