And for us writers, the best is waiting for us at the library and the bookstore.
Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”
It’s not just about reading books that teach you how to improve your craft. It’s about reading books you love and immersing yourself in the kind of books you want to write.
In The Magic Words, editor Cheryl B. Klein writes, “If you want to write well, you must get good prose and story structures into your brain so they flow naturally onto the page. You can only do that through massive amounts of reading.”
Klein shares Newbery Medal-winning author Linda Sue Park’s suggestion that aspiring children’s writers need to read at least 500 books in the age range they hope to write for before they begin.
Read, love, learn
Study the books you love. Why do you love them? What is it about the writing, the plot, the characters that make you want to turn the page and keep reading?
One writing exercise is to rewrite a chapter of a book or an entire picture book to study and absorb the prose of a well-written story.
“Massive amounts of reading” may sound like a daunting task, but if we look back on our reading history, I bet most can honestly say, “Yes, I’ve already read a massive, walloping, humongous amount of books. And it was my pleasure.”
Now all we have to do is add purpose to that pleasure.
So, treat yourself, dear writer. Turn off the TV and delete that Solitaire app on your cellphone. Linger instead among the stacks of great books—a writer’s best friends and teachers.