Friday, June 18, 2010

Harnessing the Power of Books

I don’t have a favorite genre. I mean, I do. I love YA, generally paranormal and dystopia, but I also read issue books. And religious books. And adult genres, specifically romance, but not always. Depending on my mood, I might read a drama, or an inspirational, or a fun little middle grade book. My kids will even tell you that I have my very own stash of picture books that they are not allowed to touch without asking. (Yes, sad, I know.)

But why should you care what I read? What does it matter?

I’ve discovered that even though I know what genre I’m writing (no really, I do!) everything I read—be it inside or outside my chosen genre—affects my writing. It does. Okay, so probably not directly, because a writer isn’t anything if not original, but think about it.

Poorly written books help me learn from the mistakes of other authors so I don’t make those same ones.

Excellent writing gives me the desire to reach higher out of my comfort zone and try new methods, or points of view, or styles.

Books that leave me thinking about the characters for days afterward give me reason to delve deeper into my own characters. That way my readers will become so attached, they’ll have the same problem as me.

If nothing else, every book is written in a different voice and style, both of which can be full of lessons for writers.

But what about those of you who aren’t writers? Reading a variety of genres is good for everyone, for many of the same reasons. When something is done poorly, you learn how to not make that mistake yourself. When something is done with extreme excellence, you inherit a desire to stretch farther and reach higher. When you read something that affects you deeply, you’ve generally learned a lesson about self or relationships. But if absolutely nothing else, readers generally have a better sense of life, the world, and, well, the universe. Oh, and also words. Can’t forget those. Readers know how to use words to the best advantage.

Guess what? Reading is a pretty powerful weapon. Regardless of your genre favorites, never be afraid to use your powers for good.

Who knows? Maybe something you’ve read will help you save the world someday.

It could totally happen.


Bethany Mason said...

Totally agree with this post - it is my love of words and stories that has made me want to be a writer. Words are powerful. And you're right, reading extensively is more than simply a joy, it is a learning experience.

Tess said...

Whenever I'm in a writing slump, reading always seems to help. It gets that part of my brain moving, I guess. Great advice today.

Angie said...

It is so true. It's great to read a wide variety of stuff. I can sure tell how my kids have benefited from tons of reading. They are quite articulate and they write well too. Not that I'm biased or anything.