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Reading/Writing meet Yin/Yang

This week, I have been catching up on my reading. It’s funny because I just read a post on Twitter. It was from the topic “what not to say to an agent.” The quote he had overheard was of an aspiring writer who proclaimed they did not read because they wanted to be original. I think most people in the business believe reading and writing go hand in hand. However, I have found—especially in my own experience—many writers are not avid readers. I hate to keep blaming the time factor, but I think that is the main cause.

Let’s examine how I divide my “free time.” Reading: Doing nothing else but reading, it takes me two days (give or take) to finish a book. But, it is the rare day I can devote to only reading. I watch shows, do chores, market my published work, and of course, write my own novels. Therefore, this year I have read a grand total of…wait for it…eight books this year. Compare to my mom, who has read about a book a week since May.

What makes us different? Not our love for books. I envy her ability while hating my to-read pile! No, it’s simpler. Since January, I have finished editing one novel and finished writing another. I am in the planning/research stages of my fifth novel and wanting to re-edit an older piece to pitch. Think about it. It took me about 24 hours to read each of the first three Twilight books, but how long did it take her to writeeven the first book? I think most writers shy away from reading due to the time factor. When forced to make a choice, we love to write more.

But we can’t settle on not reading, excusing it with striving to be unique. That thought is ludicrous. Why? Books are valuable to writers. It can spark an idea (not rip off an idea!). But, more importantly, it can be a valuable tool to pick up tricks of the trade. How did they describe this or that? How do they deal with dialogue? How do they pace their plot? While reading how-to books on the topics have a place, I think actually observing an author at work is better than any lesson.
I love to read because the writing experience is dramatically different. I know the ending in most cases. Which means that twist in the plot you didn’t see coming…yeah, I not only saw it coming I planned it out. In another author’s work, I don’t have that foresight. I can experience the ride instead of always constructing the path. More importantly, I can define what I love as a reader and place those elements into my own work. What better way to define and explore than through the world of books. If only the day was just a little bit longer!