Reading / Writing / July 27, 2011

Read Well to Write Well

Has there ever been a great writer who wasn’t a great reader? That’s like asking if there has ever been a great baseball player who has never watched baseball. It’s almost a nonsense question.
But, unlike baseball, there are numerous people who seek to compose works without having read deeply and widely. Not everyone watches or plays baseball, but language is common to everyone. We all communicate via the spoken and written word, therefore people feel they can write. And in the most basic sense of writing (group of words makes up a sentence, group of sentences make up a paragraph, top to bottom, left to right) that’s true.

But good writing is a product of good thinking. Good thinking is a product of good reading. So, in order to write well OR think well one must read well.  
So I ask you, writers (and humans with brains):
What are you reading? That is, what is its quality and its message? Is it worth absorbing both artistically and intellectually? (There is some, small, value in reading bad books for the sake of knowing what makes books bad, but it is not the soil out of which good writing grows.)
How widely are you reading? Are you being influenced by geniuses of different ilks, fiction and non-fiction, men and women, philosopher and theologian, story teller and reporter? Variety truly is the spice of writing, the flavor that makes it palatable.
How much are you reading? Do you have a steady influx of the written word to refresh you, enlighten you, and hone you? What’s good for the body is good for the mind, regular exercise and a steady diet of nutritious deliciousness.
Read well to think well. Think well to write well.

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