May 9th 2018
The art of learning from legends, finding your style, and becoming a great~
Growing up I used to hate reading but love writing. I would do anything to get through a book quickly but could spend hours crafting stories and writing about my thoughts. However, I wasn’t very good. That was because everything you learn about writing comes from reading.
On the most basic level, in order to write, you must be capable of reading. Language and your familiarity with it comes from experiencing language in a written form. Sure oral tradition paved the way for great storytelling, but it wasn’t until writing and reading because prominent forms of communications did we learn to take our storytelling to the next level.
So these stories that were once told orally were being preserved for new generations to read. Those written stories would inspire decades and centuries of new writers to create their own stories. And this cycle would continue on and on and on into the future. Reading inspires writing which inspires reading which inspires writing.
Aside from reading being the fuel that lights the fire of writing within the souls of great writers, it also is the great teacher of style and individuality. An aspiring writer reads books of similar styles and finds that their own style mirrors that of those they admire. However, no one can perfectly mimic the style of a specific writer without throwing in their own personal flair. For example, I really love the style in which Jen Sincero, the author of You Are A Badass, writes. I find that I really came into my personal style of writing after reading two of her books. However, read her book and read my writing and you will find tons of discernible differences. That is because Jen Sincero isn’t my only writing inspiration.
That being said, every great writer is just a combination of other great writers with a dash of personal individuality. So what makes someone a good reader exactly? Well, that is quite subjective really. To me, a good reader is someone who reads with an open mind, reads diversely, analyzes deeply, and practices.
You don’t need to read 20 books a month to be a great reader. You don’t even need to read 20 books a year to be a great reader! (I can tell you, honestly, that it is a wonder if I hit 10-15 books in a year because I am someone who really savors books…and I get busy and can’t concentrate.) What makes you a great reader is the ability to go into a book with an open mind, even if it isn’t your style. It makes you a great reader if you can sit down and analyze what about a writer’s style you want to include in your own writing. And you’re a fantastic reader if you take the styles you read and practice them to not only improve your writing, but to also improve your reading.
In simplest terms, focus on quality over quantity when you read and you can go from a good reader and writer, to a great reader and writer in no time!