Friday, 6 November 2015

Reading and Writing—Two Essentials for a Happy Writer!

This week Edge Author Dave Cousins asks how much does the ability to write, depend on your dedication as a reader.

Finding time to write alongside the demands of a family and a job—even if that job is being a writer—can be a balancing act. Before I was fortunate enough to be published and had to squeeze writing time into early starts, late nights, train journeys and lunch breaks, I sometimes found that I didn't have time to read. Free time was so scare, it seemed more important to spend it creating my own stories rather than reading somebody else's. I eventually found that logic to be somewhat flawed – in my case at least. Now I firmly agree with Stephen King, who said, “If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

It may look like I'm taking it easy with a book.
In reality this is an intensive training workout!
Over the years I’ve noticed that when I’m not reading every day, my writing flows less freely. An obvious analogy would be the sporting one: that reading is an important part of maintaining a level of writing fitness, like an athlete training every day. When I’m reading a lot, my writing feels natural, instinctive – fitter, if you like. Or as The King puts it: “Constant reading will pull you into a place where you can write eagerly and without self-consciousness.” For me, it’s about filling my subconscious with words and stories – the rhythm of sentences and paragraphs, the pace of a well spun yarn.

“Every successful writer I know is also a great reader.” – Robert Cormier

When I started to write, I worried that my own stories, or rather my voice, would start to sound like whatever I was reading, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I find that reading somebody else's words helps to clear my head, and stops me thinking about my own for a while, so I'm fresher when I return.

But what about you? Here at the Edge we are always interested to hear other people’s experience. How does reading sit alongside your writing? Does it help? Does it interfere? Does it matter what you read? Leave a comment in the box below and let us know. Thanks.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of posts you might enjoy by fellow Edge authors on a similar theme:

Reading For My Writing by Miriam Halahmy

Writing Tips Part 6 by Sara Grant

Dave Cousins is the author (and sometimes illustrator!) of a number of award-winning books for young people. Visit for more info.

1 comment:

  1. Reading is EVERYTHING to my writing. I can see the influence of everything I've ever loved to read. I'd be lost without it. Lost.