Thursday, September 10, 2009

How I spend my time writing. Part Three: Reading

So why is reading so important and what should you be reading? There are a number of reasons why reading is so important for writers. It helps you understand the genre in which you are writing better. Reading also helps you learn which topics to expound upon or even avoid in your own writing. Learning what other people have done before you will also help develop your own voice as a writer, The more reading you do, the easier it becomes to write because you’ve spent so much time learning the craft of writing with out even knowing you were being taught. You’re essentially taking English and creative writing classes for free while enjoying a good story. It might not be a lot, but you’ll pick up on more than you think.

If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write.
-Stephen King

So what are good things to read? First off read what you love. Reading anything is more important that not. As the venerable Mark Twain said, “
The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.” So make sure you are reading all the time. In doing a little research on this blog post I came across a comment by a reader that said he read one book per week. Personally I find this pretty doable, but I’m a fast reader. Do what is comfortable. Do it every day.

Reading before bed is the best time for me. I have had trouble sleeping for years and the old curling up with a good book is one of the best things to help me relax, at least half of the time. The other half it ends up keeping me up till 3 am because I can’t put the book down. Oh well, at least I’m reading right?

Read books about writing. As a newbie writer who has no formal training in the craft of writing, or the English language (see previous entires on how little I learned in High School), I have a lot to teach myself. I need to re-learn grammar, punctuation, outlining, plot, characterization. Whole mess of stuff that I have to cram into this brain of mine.

I love the Dummies books. Whenever I want to learn a new topic, be it gardening, writing, philosophy or yoga, I find myself gravitating to the Dummies series of books. They are concise, funny, and I find give you a good overall knowledge on a particular topic. There is probably a reason why they’ve lasted so long and sell so well. They also give me a bibliography and usually plenty more books to put on my reading list.

Past the dummies plug however, there are many many books by authors on how to write. I’ll be posting those up in future posts as I read through them. Right now I’m reading First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner. Mid-way though writing chapter two of my novel I realized I had no idea where I was going with my story. So I stopped a week and a half ago and I’m forcing myself to not write any more until I have a solid detailed outline in front of me.

So what have I just finished reading?

I recently (finally) finished the Harry Potter Series. (Had to re-read 1-6 before I picked up 7)

I also finished the Twilight series.

I’m currently reading His Dark Materials Series again. (Pullman is one of my favorite authors. )

In the near future I have The Dark Tower series I want to read again. (Again one of my favorite series of books.)

I’ve also come across a new series called The Dark is Rising, that I’ll probably pick up after that.

I also can’t wait for Dan Brown’s new book to get released. I was a fan of Angels and Demons before Da Vinci Code hit it big. So glad he has another one being released soon.

I’ll be starting a new segment once I finish my next set of books. I’ll start posting up mini-reviews of the books that I finish. It will help me document what I’ve read and what notes I had on that book (useful for me to refer back to) plus I hope I might turn on my readers to something new.

So what are you reading? What series are your favorites? If you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed what are your thoughts on them?


  1. Well, I've been reading a lot about the history of base ball. I mean the real history by credible authors who do scholarly work. Mostly SABR members who spend quite a bit of time digging for real evidence before putting it together. Like you said in this post, reading is research as well as instruction about the genre and how to write it.

    I'm mulling it over in my head to write a book of my own. But first, I'm considering the research that must be done and the time invested. I know it will be significant, so some reading and thought will be required beforehand. I want to make sure that if I should committ to this project, that I can make it an honest effort.

    Impressive post. Keep going. I know of a great grammar book that's easy to learn. Can't remember the title off hand, but when I do, I'll send it to you, or repost it here. Either or.

  2. I think it's great that you want to write a book! I want to too, but I keep getting sidetracked! Thanks for the link your your blog!