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Sometime last week, I had a conversation with someone who wanted to know how to get into writing and how to choose a genre.
I asked her what kind of books she likes to read. She responded, “I don’t really like reading.”
I was a little stumped. We discussed for a few more minutes and she decided she was into shows like Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City.
“Sounds like you might want to get into drama then?” I offered.
We didn’t settle on any subject so I suggested she read a few books from different genres to get a better idea but she seemed mortified.
It led me to think – is it possible to write if you don’t read? Is reading good for writing?
Technically, if you went to school, I guess you can write but that doesn’t make you a good writer.
Perhaps the question should be, “Can you improve as a writer if you don’t read?”
Every successful writer I’ve known or heard of was also a lover of books. My journey to writing began with a love of reading from age 5.
To me, it seems logical that the two go hand in hand together. Natural talent goes a long way but talent still needs to be nurtured and developed. You can’t get by on natural talent alone.
Musicians, actors etc go to performing arts schools. Painters study the masters and study under the masters.
A story comes from your heart and you can write 500 pages of utter drivel if you so wish.
However, the rewrites come from your head. Learning concise and tight writing, proper grammar usage, pacing, character developments, etc comes from reading books.
The more you read, the better your writing becomes. It’s that simple.
I think Stephen King said it best in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
It’s possible there’s an exception to this but as I said, I’ve never met a successful writer who didn’t love reading.
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Are you able to write as well as you can without reading at all? Share in the comments section.