I tried to simplify this month’s question a little in my blog post title. IWSG’s question is: It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?
Let’s look at a phrase in the first part of the question, “all your ideas are new and original.” Think about this. Haven’t we all read—I know, but “read” is not a dirty word for writers—that there are no original plots or ideas for stories? I have. It’s the way we interpret what happens to our characters and what the character’s flaws and strengths are that make our stories unique. In other words, the basic framework may be the same, but the details are different.
As a writer, I do not see any benefit of NOT reading other stories, essays, or blog posts. For myself, I’m not reading to take any other writer’s idea, passages, or plots. I’m reading to learn through other people’s, or character’s, experiences in life. And yes, I read for enjoyment. I love stories, be they fiction or non-fiction.
Think about it. The stimulus for story is all around us. It comes through our day to day lives, our interactions, our adventures, and yes, in our readings. Many times I’ve read that writers ask “what if” when they read or hear a news story or a friend’s anecdote or experience. In fact, many of my YA adventure stories begin with my family’s adventures camping at national parks.
Another reason to read fiction or memoir stories is to find comp titles when putting together a proposal for the publisher. As writers, we need to know what’s out there and where our works in progress fit into the literary landscape. I’ve been looking for recent memoir titles to read dealing with education or personal experience in college. I’m currently reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I may need to broaden my searches. I should consider inspirational works; the power of choices, of believing in yourself, of finding or beginning a dream and seeing it through with perseverance.
*Please offer any recent memoir titles you’ve read that deal with life experiences; trying to better yourself or learning to believe in oneself, so I can add them to my reading list and see if they could be used as comp titles for my college memoir. I truly appreciate all your comments. They help me to move forward with my work.*
I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month.
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