So many books, so little time.
I’m one of those voracious readers who tends to inhale books rather than savor them. Though I try to learn to stroll through the pages, take my time, enjoy the journey, I can’t always do it. In fact, the longer it’s been since I’ve read a book, the more starved I am for the words. I miss a lot because of it.
When I spend all day writing, I tend to forget to allow myself the privilege of reading. It’s a mistake. I had someone ask me if I needed to read any more; would it compromise my own writing by giving me ideas that belong to someone else? Now, I’m not arrogant enough to think that I cannot be influenced by what I read. We all are. However, I am not so very influenced that I cannot use my own imagination.
Reading does enhance my writing, though.
It keeps me out of just one style. Additionally, it keeps me from narrowing my focus so much that I lose sight of all that is around me because my own words are crowding it out. My writing is strongest when I’ve spent time in well-written books. They inspire me to craft a sentence.
[clickToTweet tweet=”In fact, a single well-crafted sentence is all I need to tempt me to read something.” quote=”In fact, a single well-crafted sentence is all I need to tempt me to read something.”]
For example, in Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourn opens the book (and the series) with:
“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
It sold me on the entire series. I bought it all without knowing anything else about it (and have subsequently learned that there are a few unnecessary words or moments. I still haven’t read it, though, so… just sayin’. This isn’t a recommendation of the series… yet. I’ll review that later!)
I want to be that writer. I love combing through a manuscript, fixing sentences and such, and finding a comment from my editor that says I’ve written one that really spoke to her. That’s the goal! Those sentences that so perfectly convey what you want them to–they’re best learned by reading others who do that well.
How to find time to do that reading in the middle of life, writing, homeschooling, life, writing, cooking, life, writing, cleaning… you get the picture. I’ve learned a few things over the years. Maybe they’ll help you when you are missing time with a good story.
Note: this post was originally posted in 2012. It’s been edited and updated for 2018. Oh, and links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you.
How & Why I Make Reading a Huge Priority in My Life
- I let myself be sick. When I’m sick, I used to try to work through it– do well. Keep going. Now, I grab a book, go to bed, read a little, sleep a lot, read a little. It’s not often, but hey, it happens.
- Take a book and go read somewhere. I don’t do that often either, but you know what, sometimes I just have to do it. Sometimes I need an hour alone with a good book.
- Read while the family is sleeping. This is my favorite and most used option.
- Sign up to be a review blogger for sites like Tyndale, Net Galley, and my favorite, Celebrate Lit.
Filling your mind with positive ideas, exciting words, and intriguing plots is a great way to see everything else you read with new, fresh eyes.
It makes the words I put on “paper” have greater meaning and “life.” In fact, I see the deeper underlying themes of stories–even of the Bible–better because of the time I spend in books of all kinds– fiction and non-fiction.
Writers must write. We must. For years, my writing was all in my mind, but I still “wrote.” Now, I write them down the minute I think of them–I make them a part of my future plans so they aren’t lounging around in there, cluttering my brain. And then I really dive deep into those stories and make them come alive on the page. Well, that’s the goal, anyway.
However, as a human who thrives on story. It feeds my heart and soul. Through story, good story, anyway, I am drawn back to the feet of the Master Storyteller. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s why I write.
Reading is a huge priority in my life. Writing just helps me process it. Or something like that.
I’m curious, though. Is reading a priority in your life? If so, why? (And what should I read next?)