Trouble Writing? Read.

Me & Jasper

Me & Jasper

My love of reading has taken me to wonderful places with so many different characters. If you ask me what kind of books I like, I can’t come up with just one type. Reading has always been cathartic to me, and I can get hooked on any piece of good writing.

As a child, I loved Nancy Drew. Those books ignited my love for mysteries. Then, writers like Pearl S. Buck, Robert Michener and Irving Stone caught my imagination and I pored through their fascinating worlds.  I’ll never forget how exciting it was to see the Pieta in person after I had read “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” I’d walked with Michelangelo to the quarry while he chose the marble for that magnificent statue.

Michelangelo's Pieta 5450 cropncleaned editCC BY 2.5 Stanislav Traykov - Edited version of (cloned object out of background)

Michelangelo’s Pieta 5450 cropncleaned editCC BY 2.5
Stanislav Traykov – Edited version of (cloned object out of background)

Gothic romances and mysteries claimed my interest for quite a while and then I discovered Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Ooh! Those names give me a slight chill. There are so many other authors who have spiked my imagination. My love of thrillers began with Ludlum. Paranormal interests include vampires (Rice), ghosts and witches. And Paranormal and Fantasy, I attribute to J.K. Rowling. Yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan.

My house is filled with books — boxes of books, bookcases full of books, baskets of books, and a few piled in corners. Okay, I also have a Kindle and a Nook and an IPad. I can’t help myself — I love to read. A few weeks ago, when I took the train to NYC to go to Thrillerfest, I was so excited to have four hours of uninterrupted reading.

One Basket!

One Basket!

Since I’ve been writing, however, I tend to read differently. Now, when I find myself up until the wee hours, whipping through the pages, I often stop (at a relatively calm spot) and go back over what I’ve read to see how the author pulled me in.

It really is true that you can learn how to write by reading. Of course, you have to understand what you’re looking at to learn anything. I just finished a book that had very few places for me to breathe. What it taught me was that I needed far less breathable spaces in my manuscript. Some of the perils in that book could be tweaked here and there and modified for my own work.

So many great authors have put that profound wisdom in their How-To books, but it took me a while to really get it. I always felt that I shouldn’t take so much time to read, that I should be doing something useful, like writing.

Not  any more! Now I’m thrilled to pick up a book in between rewrites. No more guilt. Reading is one of the best ways to improve my writing. Now that I know that secret, I have books lined up ready for when I get a break — at the beach, doctor’s office, waiting for the car to be fixed, hair salon, or just before bed.

I’m sure there are many other excellent reading escapes. Where do you like to catch a few words?

Remember, keep writing!

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2 thoughts on “Trouble Writing? Read.

  1. Thanks for reminding me, Margo, that this is a great place to study method and technique. It always amazes me–to this day–when I’m in a conversation with someone and they say, “Oh, I don’t read books.”

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