Writers are also readers. Most writers I know – in fact, all writers I know – are passionate about the books they love, and they read a lot. Reading is absorption, it’s passion, it’s relaxation, it’s research, it’s inspiration.
Today, I want to remind you to pause, and to read. Take up a new book – a novel, a memoir, a work of narrative non-fiction, a collection of poetry – and find a space which pleases you to read in. I know some people who can only read in bed. I’m not one of those. I read everywhere and if I have a book on the go, everything is better. Waiting in queues, sitting on public transport, travelling – these all become opportunities for wonder and inspiration if I am reading.
I am often stunned when new writers tell me they don’t read. Or they don’t read fiction. Or they haven’t read a new novel in ten years.
Writers read in different ways, and for different ends:
– We read to research. This might include reading fiction as well as non-fiction. It might include reading the lyrics of an entire opera composed in 1829. It might include reading the journals of a ship’s captain, or a mythic text, or academic works.
– We read for inspiration. This might be connected quite closely to reading for research, but it’s broader, gentler.
– We read to know what else is in the territory we are in – if you want to write a memoir, it serves you to know what kind of memoirs are being published; if fiction is your thing, you’ll want to read new releases and keep an ear for the nuances of the time.
– We read to support other writers.
– And crucially, we read for pleasure. We read because we value reading and we know that reading changes us, enriches us and makes us better writers and better people.
So that’s it – your pleasure for today (I can’t really call it a task because I love it so) is to let yourself fall into a book. Read today for inspiration and for pleasure. Read to remind yourself of why words matter and, crucially, what sort of words matter to you.
For added bonus points, read a little out loud. Listen to the power of language. Revel in it. Remind yourself of why you want to write at all – and revel in the possibility that another reader will one day bring that same passion and pleasure to reading you.
Now, your prompt for today…
A snatch of song