Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Importance of Reading

Before I get started, I want to apologize that I'm not posting the deadline calculator today like I said I would. I've gotten to the point where it consistently has one of two problems and the solution to each problem causes the other problem. I don't know if that makes sense, but I honestly can't look at it anymore. Maybe I'll revisit it in the future or just start over from scratch, but at this point, it isn't happening. Sorry. :(

*****

The other day, I was talking to my daughter and her friend about writing. Both of them like to write, but they both say they hate to read. So, since I will do just about anything to get my kids to read (how I ended up with only one kid who likes to read, I'll never understand), I tried to impress on them the importance of reading if you want to be a writer, but for some reason--probably lack of sleep and spending all day looking at time cards and Excel spreadsheets--I couldn't come up with any compelling reasons other than that you should know your market if you want to be published and it's makes you a better writer.

Knowing your market is important, but to a teenager who only writes for pleasure and isn't looking to publish anytime soon, it's not important. So that wasn't helpful. And when I mentioned it helps you become a better writer, they, of course, wanted specifics. I told them there were things you gleaned from reading that you can't learn anywhere else. That wasn't specific enough for them. After that, they started talking about something else and the topic was forgotten.

About a week later, I was listening to an audiobook at work and something magical happened. I know listening to an audiobook isn't technically reading, but sometimes that's the closest I can get. Anyway, I have a story I started about four years ago. I love the characters and the premise, and I'd really like to finish it, but I keep getting stuck. I know how I want several of the subplots to go and I have a pretty good idea about the main plot arc--even did a complete outline at one point--but every time I sat down to write, it just felt wrong. The plot needs to go one way but my MC has had no reason do the things she needs to do to move the plot forward. And so it's been sitting, waiting while I work on other things.

So, back to the audiobook. The climax was over and things were wrapping up. The MC was talking about something with her boyfriend and one of them said something (I don't remember exactly what it was) and even though I wasn't thinking about my story, something in my subconscious latched onto some aspect of their conversation, my MC's motivation became clear and everything for my story clicked into place. And it's such a simple solution, it's a little embarrassing I didn't come up with this a year ago. Major duh moment.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened--reading has always been one of the ways I recharge my brain when I'm stuck--but this is the first time it's happened with something this important.

So now I just have to choose between my current WIP and going back to that story. It feels like choosing one child and completely ignoring the other. Such an easy decision. At least now I have more ammo for the next time my daughter asks me why reading is so important for a writer.

What about you? Do you think reading is important if you're a writer? What do you get from reading that helps you to be a better writer?

3 comments:

  1. Absolutely! I'm always so baffled when people I know tell me they have written a manuscript, but haven't read a book in years. ?! How do you know what's been done? What's unique? I think words and ideas seep into our blood as we read, only to pour out later in our writing, hopefully in new and interesting ways.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Definitely! Reading good books inspires my writing SO much.

    ReplyDelete

Add your awesome here: