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I'm guilty too. I LOVE reading, but when I'm strapped for time or feeling overwhelmed, I usually either turn to my own story or Gilmore Girls (#teamjess).
But I think we are losing so many opportunities by not reading... opportunities to get a fresh perspective on our own writing!
Here are several things that frequent reading allows:
- It keeps us in touch with what readers want. As a writer, I may not want to introduce my main characters until chapter three. As a reader, if I have to wait until chapter three before the hero and heroine meet, I'm probably putting the book down before then. As a writer, I may want to kill characters when they frustrate me. As a reader, I HATE WHEN WRITERS DO THAT.
- It keeps us aware of comparable titles. If you're an author or an aspiring author, books are your business. You need to know what's out there so you can bill yourself as relevant.
- It hones our craft. You can write until the cows come home, but you will never get the skill-sharpening power that only reading allows. Reading is like looking at someone else's art. You learn to appreciate others' work, and that appreciation betters your own. And as an added benefit, you can internalize a sense of story arc in a way that feels "easy" when you aren't forcing the plot like we often do in our own stories.
- It establishes a sense of community. Reading well and often is one very successful means of linking ourselves within a writing community... it's a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" sort of scenario. If you invest yourself in reading others' work, you're that much more likely to find critique partners, mentors, and friends who will help you with your own.
Your turn! What other benefits have you found in reading? What are you reading right now?
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.