One thing you must do if you want to write

Dear Writer Guy,

I’ve heard that it is important to continue reading even though you are constantly short on writing time.  How do you balance the two? Do you read in the genre you write in? Do you also read adult stuff?

Just curious, 
Alice in Missouri

Dear Alice,

As the novelist John Irving said, “I learned to be a writer from reading.” This is as true of me as it is of any writer I’ve met. The more you read, the more you absorb different ways of telling stories — which in turn helps you tell your own stories.

I try to feed my mind with a variety of different types of books, different voices.  I’ll read the occasional nonfiction title (mostly biographies), but I favor fiction.  And within fiction, I range widely.  Rather than exclusively reading within the genres I usually write in (picture books, middle grade, mysteries), I read across genres.  Fantasy and historical fiction. Real-life tales. Both adult and children’s books; both literary fiction and trashy beach reads.  Everything is grist for the mill.

Yes, I like to know what other writers are doing within my genre, but to keep my viewpoint fresh, I read more outside my genre — adult mysteries, for example, rather than juvenile mysteries.  We’re all solving some of the same problems within genre writing, but some adult authors may take a different approach that I can learn from.

As to the time-for-reading challenge, I feel it too.  I deal with it by reading during my scraps of downtime — at meals, waiting at the doctor’s office, when I’m done with work for the day.  Even ten minutes’ reading over lunch can help.

As Stephen King put it, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.  Simple as that.”  Can’t argue with the King.

Happy writing,
Writer Guy

4 thoughts on “One thing you must do if you want to write

  1. rileyrom says:

    Audiobooks are one of my favorite ways to “read.” I always listen to one when I’m exercising, cleaning the house, or going on long car rides. I’m getting two things done at once and I even find myself looking forward to exercising just so I can listen to my book (nothing will make me excited about cleaning, but a good story definitely makes the dishes go faster!).

    1. Bruce Hale says:

      Me too, Riley. I’ve always got one going in my car, even if I’m only driving across town. We’re story addicts!

  2. Ryan Schossler says:

    I loved reading all 4 of the Class Pets Books! I especially liked the characters Igor and Vinnie! They are hilarious! Still laughing at “Zip it, plague breath!” I’m in second grade and my teacher gave a journal assignment to write about anything we want to. I’m only on the third page, but I have chosen to create my own book 5 for Fuzzy’s Adventures. I haven’t named the title yet. I’ll wait until I’m finished and then think of a good title! Just curious when you think Book 5 will come out, if there will be a book 5? Also, I’d love if you shared some ideas with me for my journal, and I’ll share my ideas with you too? Thanks!

    1. Bruce Hale says:

      I’m glad to hear how you’re enjoying the Class Pets books, Ryan. I had a blast writing Vinnie, that’s for sure.

      Best of luck with your writing assignment. At this point, my publisher hasn’t planned for a fifth Class Pets book, but you never know. There’s lots of potential for adventures with Fuzzy and company!

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