As a writer, sometimes I get too busy with life and writing that I don’t have time to read. That might not seem like such a big deal. However, reading is like studying for writers. If you are a writer, whether seasoned or inexperienced, reading is essential to developing your craft. That doesn’t erase the fact that we are busy people. How do we best utilize our reading time? Here are a few tips:
- Reading within the genre you write. This is the most obvious and easiest way to be wise with our reading time. In order to write mystery, you must read mystery. To write fantasy, you must read fantasy. You write best what you know, and reading quality pieces within your genre will help you put together the best story possible.
- Branch out into purely literary work (or if you write literary work, check out genre work). Literary work is all about the art of language. Genre writers often get so caught up in the art of storytelling, of advancing the plot, that they leave out important details or description. I am writing a series of other world fantasy novels. My first draft of the first book has far too little description; the reader won’t be able to picture the world I’ve created. Purely literary writing can be more work in reading than I’m used to, but it forces me to think about description, details, and the art of language. Adding a little of those things to my own work will improve it. I’ve bought a few back issues of The Glimmer Train, a well known literary magazine. It has short stories so I don’t feel bogged down, and it has quality work full of truly artful use of language. Now, I’m not saying to add in a bunch of flowery sentences and long drawn out descriptions. I am saying that poorly written sentences ruin a story and that too little description can leave a reader confused and disconnected.
- Read different lengths of work. Especially if you write novels, throw in a few flash fiction and short stories into your reading regimine. I would suggest trying to write some flash fiction and short stories as well. Short stories are great for studying how to make a scene concise. There are no wasted words in quality short stories and flash fiction, which is an excellent attribute of truly great novels.
Writers, how do you choose what to read?