Never Stop Reading by Grace

As a young child, I loved to read. My tiny chubby hands would grip the sides of a book, my eyes lit with excitement and intrigue, my voice full of confidence and drama as I read a scene aloud for the home video camera. There were princesses and magical forests, amazing quests and romance. I would flip the pages eagerly, ready for the next passage.

The funny thing was, I was making up the story as I went.

My eyes would see the pictures in those children books, and because I was only four and couldn’t read coherently yet, I just imagined a story based off the illustration and rambled. My imagination went wild, and this was where I first discovered my love for creating stories. Reading has the power to do this—to inspire new stories, broaden your imagination, and encourage creation. Even after you felt the calling to be a writer, it is still important to read frequently. There is so much knowledge in this world, and you’ll find a good portion of it in the books all around you.

As a writer, we begin our journey using other people’s styles or techniques from books we’ve read. By pulling elements from different sources and implementing our own unique stylistic choices, we have created our own individual writing style. Of course, it doesn’t stop there—we are always learning and growing, evolving our style to a more sophisticated level than before. And while practicing frequently is one part of the writing process, there’s another: reading. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Reading is how you study. You don’t just read a book for the intended purposes of that book—you read it to determine the voice of the writer, how the story was told, what elements you want to see in your own writing. Even though, as Ernest Hemingway once said, nobody is purely a master at the art of writing, there are those that have greatly impacted the writing sphere, and by studying their work, just as a pianist would study the works of Mozart or Beethoven, you gain significant writerly knowledge. A fine example I can offer is when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Yes, the book impacted me greatly as a human being—the themes of love and death, of words and life really opened my eyes. It’s what you might call a “life-changing” read.

But other things caught my eye as a writer. The sequence of events, the originality of the descriptions, the voice of Death (what other book has Death as the narrator?), the formatting–Zusak wrote with such a unique style I had never seen before, and it inspired me to write with that keen eye for detail. The way in which he personified words was not just a larger theme in the book, it was subtle in the language. I used that kind of detail in my writing after, tweaking it to fit my own style.

Even if you know reading is important, it’s hard to make time for it when you’re buried in school work, and school related reading. I recommend taking advantage of the required reading as an opportunity to study for your own style, too! William Faulkner once said to read everything, to absorb what you read, no matter what it is. Then figure out which parts work in your own writing. We’re always learning as writers!

The main message here is to never stop reading–and by “reading” I mean really absorbing the book. Infuse your work with what you’ve discovered. Let different styles and techniques influence you–play around with them, fit them together in unique ways with your own voice. I wish you the best with your reading.

What books have influenced you as a writer?

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Posted on February 18, 2017, in Editorial Board Essay. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. This was wonderful and really reminded me of me when I was younger.

  2. Great job, Grace! I love this.

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