There are several phrases that have become writer mantras. I could skip meditation all together and “om” myself with them into sleepy bliss. I’ve heard them so many times, they almost don’t mean anything to me anymore. Today, I had a revelation about one such phrase.
In order to be a good writer, you must read a lot.
I was reading The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty when this phrase came to mind, and I realized how true it was. However, previously, I had thought that reading meant reading for the words on the page. Reading was a way to analyze how others had managed to create compelling stories. It was a mathematical way to separate a formula from plot. It was everything that writing is not.
For most of us, writing is feeling. It isn’t done because we have to. It’s done because we want to. Therefor, I say that instead of quantifying your reading experience by deducing the various equations that make up your chosen genre, qualify your reading by how it makes you feel. Read something you enjoy, and do it every day. This exercises your imagination, which is the tool that got you into this authorial mess to begin with.
With the imagination and creative excitement you felt when you first picked up the pen, perhaps you will become the writer you wish to be.