The honest truth is this: sometimes I’m nothing more than a broken record. When I feel something is important, I’m apt to campaign for it again and again. Today’s topic is a perfect example.
I’ve written a number of posts designed to push writers to remember to read. It’s a vital part of the writing process. If you want to be a good writer, you have to love reading, and you have to be a reader. There isn’t any way around it, but there’s more to it than that.
While there are a number of compelling reasons for a writer to read, I agree with the quote above. Reading isn’t just important for writers. It’s important for everyone.
Sadly, we live in an age of instant gratification. I know more than a few people who can’t be bothered to pick up a book. “Why would I?” they ask while I recoil in shock. “If a book is any good, they’ll make a movie out of it.”
True, though “they’ll butcher it by making a movie out of it” would be more accurate 90% of the time.
But the point is well taken. If reading is only about entertainment, there are other, easier, less time consuming options. Why not just watch a good TV show or head to the movies? Last week I argued for the value of fiction and why we need it in our lives. Film fills that need, at least to a degree, so why insist that people need to read? Is it really all that different?
Yes, it is.
Reading engages your mind in an entirely different way. It forces you to imagine the scene instead of being hand-fed it. It expands your vocabulary, teaches you everything from trivia to life skills, lowers your stress level and even gives your brain a workout. If you’re not reading, you’re missing out on a lot.
To many non-readers, however, the prospect of reading sounds like yet another annoying chore, which is precisely why (as I mentioned last week) it’s vitally important that we have a ridiculously wide variety of fiction readily available. If I meet someone who says they’ve never enjoyed reading a single book, ever, I always say the same thing: “You just haven’t found the right book yet.”
It annoys the piss out of them, but it’s true. There’s a form of written fiction out there for everyone, and everyone, writers and non-writers alike, should find the type of book that gets them excited and read.
As a writer, you should be encouraging others to read. Pragmatically, it just makes sense. Every time you convert a new reader, you’ve expanded your potential fan-base. But getting someone else to read does a lot more than that. It enriches lives in real and powerful ways. Hopefully, you’ve experienced that very effect. It’s likely one of the reasons you want to write.
Don’t forget to pass what you know along–that reading both is fun and life-changing.