Prolific science fiction author Isaac Asimov said that a writer will spend 90% of their time thinking and 10% typing. For a guy who typed 90 words per minute, wrote 10 hours a day, 363 days per year, and sold almost every word he composed, I'd say he was definitely on to something. Writers indeed spend an enormous amount of time doing all sorts of activities which don't exactly include adding word count to their manuscript. Be it researching, plotting, outlining, people watching, listening to music, analyzing films, or sitting in silence, meditating, we literally fill our lives with whatever it takes to create this one, hopefully good story. Our loved ones must learn to accept our obsessions, as 1) they can change at any given moment and 2) there's simply no living with us if we can't be our weird compulsive--I mean, artistic--selves.
Among these many writerly activities falls a very, very important, vital aspect: READING.
|Encourage Your Kids to Read, Too|
Yep, that's right. Several writers interested in bettering their writing skills have asked me, "What self-help books do you recommend for craft?" While I 100% stand by Debra Dixon's masterpiece GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict--The Building Blocks of Good Fiction, I usually respond to this question with, "I wouldn't. I recommend reading what you write."
Why do I say this? Simple. How else are you supposed to know what's on the market, what authors are putting out there in YOUR genre, unless you read? Multi-published best selling author Stephen King has often confessed in numerous interviews that he reads everything. Just take a look at his summer reading list in this upcoming week's Entertainment Weekly. Novels ranging from thrillers like Buried Prey by John Sandford and to the historical paranormal suspense The Cypress House by Michael Koryta dot the page, each guaranteed not to disappoint. And I would venture to say we're all fairly impressed with Mr. King's writing and storytelling abilities, yes?
|Caricature of Good Ol' Uncle Stevie|
I thought so.
Here's the bottom line: You can enroll in all the writing classes you want (which, by the way, I do recommend taking at least a beginner and intermediate), book online courses and craft workshops, attend conferences (also highly recommended for networking purposes; plus, they're great fun) read self-help books until you're blue in the face...
But at the end of the day, you can't expect to sit at your computer and be brilliant, unless you are reading. And for the fiction writer, that means reading FICTION. Live it, breathe it. When you finish one book, start on another, and another and another. I've heard other authors confess that if they stop reading, they run out of words. This is so very true. If you're stumped in your manuscript, ask yourself: Did I read today? If not, make time. Even if it's just a page or two, you'll be amazed by how that small bit recharges the mind, bestows confidence, and even sparks ideas.
For a bit of fun, tell me what you're reading now. Is it something you'd normally choose? Or are you branching out, exploring new territory? Include your email address with your answer, and on Thursday, I'll randomly select one commenter to receive a copy of Laura Griffin's Unforgivable.
From the back of the book:
At first, Mia Voss thinks it's just bad luck when her already lousy day ends with a carjacking, but what seems like a random incident is followed by another sinister episode. A DNA expert, Mia has made it her mission to put away vicious criminals. Suddenly, she's become the target of one. And the only way to protect the people she loves most is to deliberately destroy her reputation and risk letting a killer walk free.
Once, Mia trusted Detective Ric Santos, but that was before Ric let his turbulent past ruin his chances with Mia, the sexiest, most intriguing woman he's ever met. But he can tell when she's lying--and when she's scared. The key to catching a sadistic madman lies within a long-buried cold case that has haunted Mia for years. Only she can uncover the truth, but first, Ric will have to get her to entrust him with her secrets... and her life.
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,