“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

Photo credit ecooper99 via WANACommons

This quote of King’s is one of my favorites. It’s not my all time favorite, which is:

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ” ― Joss Whedon.

However, King’s quote is so very true. Without reading we can’t learn as much about our craft. Sure, we learn through writing. Practice practice practice. But that can only take us so far. That can only take us to the limits of our own imagination and skills. By reading we’re able to open up and expand. We’re able to see what other writers are doing. We see what’s working and what isn’t. In a previous post, I once said “to become better writers we must become the best thieves and liars in the business. We slink around the pages of everyone else’s work and shove it into our pockets. Then we run home and try to make it our own.” We do that by reading. We look at techniques of other writers and see how they string together their sentences. How do they describe things? How are the chapters laid out? What type of font was used? Do the chapter headers include images? How do they describe the actions of their characters? We can take all of these things and twist them to make them into our own unique style.

King’s quote also made me realize a habit of mine I’ve noticed. It sort of goes like this:

  • Write 1,000+ words a day for 1 – 2 weeks.
  • Write nothing for 1 – 1.5 weeks.
  • Devour 2 – 3.5 books.
  • Write 1,000+ words a day for 1 – 2 weeks.

It’s almost as if reading helps me to recharge my creative fuel. I get burned out writing so much so quickly (not that it’s an extraordinary amount), that I need a break to take in the work of other writers. Then, after seeing what can be accomplished by just sitting down and writing, I’m ready to get back to it.

I’m currently at the stage of devouring books. I haven’t written in a few days, but I read Goliath (Leviathan #3), The Fault in Our Stars (Excellent, excellent book), and and I’m currently reading Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3). I’d been working on Goliath for a few months now, being distracted by writing. But I finished The Fault in Our Stars in about three days, and I’m steadily working my way through Clockwork Princess. Although, it is quite a large book, so I’m sure it will take me a bit longer to finish. But I will say that I’m a fan of Cassandra Claire’s writing style. But I’m noticing the dialogue in this books seems a bit as if she’s trying too hard to emulate the way they spoke in Victorian London. But, still a good book so far.

However, as I made my way through the pages of Clockwork Princess, I did start to get some writerly inspiration. A scene or two popped into my head that I think will help me get back to my writing flow. So I’m eager to get back to finishing Black Powder Brigade, seeing as how I’m about 27,000 words from my target word count.

How often do you read while trying to write? Have you found a good balance between the two? Do you write more than you read? Do you read more than you write?


3 thoughts on ““If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

  1. I can’t help but be inspired by books I love. I do as you say, I see what they’ve created and become depserate to make something of my own that’s as good. The problem I have is forcing myself to diversify and take chances with new books rather than just reading and re-reading the old reliables. I know I have loads to learn from the ones I know and love but I also know it is very important to broaden your horizons and make sure you branch out and absorb all possibilities. You never know what you might find.

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