Using Reading To Reignite Your Writing

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because even though I trained as an editor and a writer, I don’t always see the mistakes and typos in my own work.

I think it’s easy, as a writer, to become discouraged and weary and have that negatively affect your writing. There are the rejections and the negative reviews that sting your soul; the working so hard on your writing and on book promotion (which are both full-time jobs) that tire you; and the upheavals and uncertainty in the publishing world that bring anxiety or financial instability. And if you focus on your writing as your sole means of earning a living, writing can start to feel like a chore, as well as bring pressure. All these things can take the magic and joy out of writing.

And there can be such incredible magic writing. When you create a story out of just letters and words, and your soul and imagination, and that story makes a reader care about the characters, have greater compassion, or feel what it’s like to be someone else–that is magic. When you’ve written sentences and phrases that powerfully, even poetically say truths that you need to say, or that you know will make someone feel and think in ways they didn’t before–phrases that feel just right when you read them aloud–that is a joy. Knowing you’ve written a book that grips readers so much that they can’t put the book down–that feels exhilarating. But if you’ve lost that joy and magic, writing just feels hard.

So how do you get back that joy? You read. Re-read old books you loved and found comfort in, and let the magic of a great storyteller take you places that only a storyteller can. Read new books that excite you and make you feel and care about the characters. If you pick up a book that you don’t enjoy, just put it down, then pick up another one. Keep doing that until you’ve found a book that pulls you in and doesn’t kick you out of the story, a book that you can’t stop reading but don’t want to finish because it’s so good, a book that makes you care deeply about the characters. That book will help feed your creativity and soul, and remind you why you write. That book will help you love writing again, and write with more passion.

And don’t stop there. Read as often as you can. Stuff yourself full of books–books in your own genre, and books outside of it. I believe that reading novels helps us write better. We can learn through osmosis, through absorbing the story and all it has to tell us, through feeding our creative selves. As Ray Bradbury says:

“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting.”
-Rad Bradbury

And when you’ve finished a book that you absolutely loved, think about how it made you feel and what it gave you–hours of delicious pleasure and escape; peeking into someone else’s life or knowing you’re not alone; pure delight in a story well told. Think about how it made you want to tell everyone about this fantastic book, how it made you want to write that author and thank her. Then realize that that’s what your books give other readers–that joy and magic, that escape and validation. You have become a favorite author for someone else, just the way other authors are your favorites. What an incredible, amazing thing to have happen!

So read what you love and let yourself write what you love. It will bring joy and passion back into your work.

It does for me. What do you find works for you?

3 Responses to “Using Reading To Reignite Your Writing”

  1. Matthew Aaron Browning Says:

    Sound advice! I like to keep a mix going most of the time – something in my own genre (LGBT YA), something outside that genre so I can glean from what others are doing, and something non-fiction like books about writing.

  2. Cheryl Rainfield Says:

    I like that mix, Matthew! I do something similar–a lot of YA realistic and fantasy (including LGBT), some adult suspense, and non-fiction on writing.

  3. AME Blog Carnival: tips and tricks for writers and authors – August 12, 2013 | Author Marketing Experts, Inc. Says:

    […] Rainfield presents Using Reading To Reignite Your Writing posted at Cheryl […]

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