Monday, 23 November 2009

Does reading make you a better writer

Somebody said to me recently that I have a big appetite and I quipped "That's why I eat so much chocolate then."

Chocolate aside, and I should never put chocolate aside (by the way there's some very tempting chocolate in the Delilah shop in Nottingham at the moment in exotic designed tins) having a big appetite is certainly true of my reading.

Sometimes I've hoovered books up at a rate that I couldn't tell you what I've read. However, as a writer do I read in a different way?

The great John Carlton always says that if you like something in a book, you should go back and work out why it appealed to you.

Why did it grab you, rock your world or bring you to tears?

Does that spoil your reading enjoyment? Well I tend to read the book through, then go back and check it out.

Does it mean that you'll end up writing like that person? Most of us are derivative as beginning writers. What's important is that we work through that stage to find our voice. That essential 'us-ness'. How long that take us depends on what we're trying to write and how passionate we are about reaching that individual voice.

I'll never write like someone who comes from a different culture, race or background. I admire those who can do that. Elizabeth George pulls it off in 'What came before'.

All I can aim for is to write from the honest core of me. Reading other people doesn't obstruct that. It makes it easier because the books I connect with all have that honesty.

Read on. Read wide. Read with passion.

Then spin off into space to turbo charge your writing.

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