There’s no understating the importance of a healthy, balanced diet of strong reading material.
Seriously. It’s one of the best things a writer can do to keep those fingers pumping out fresh material. Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers of our generation, says that good writers read four to six hours a day.
Sound overwhelming? Just a tad. That doesn’t mean you can’t set other goals that are perhaps a bit less lofty but still ambitious. These days, we’re trained to think “unwinding” requires you to crash in front of the television with a bag of pretzels.
The next time you plan to do that, imagine Papa Hemingway is standing at the entrance to the room, judging you. Were he alive today, he would be.
On second thought, he’d probably be out wrestling a bear. Or in his study, reading and writing.
Zoning out in front of the television–turning your brain “off”–is a total myth, and one that you don’t need to buy into. Sure, the occasional episode of Breaking Bad may help you hone your storytelling skills. But that’s intelligent TV (or a quick mental break). Zonking for four hours before bed is as unproductive as it is unhealthy.
Wherever you want to succeed in writing, you must read. Lively fiction, engrossing academic, practical how-to–whatever the discipline, it’ll have a positive impact on your writing.
Start small. Schedule an hour a day for reading. Then, scale it up.
To help supplement my reading, I like to try and catch myself whenever I wander to a mindless site. When I do, I shut the tab and read a couple of pages out of whatever book I’m working on.
What kind of books have an impact on your writing?