Every writer is confronted with the daring goal to create a wonderful story worth telling, but before you were a writer (or considered yourself a poet, novelist, or artist), you started with a simple practice. You read. You read your favorite books, whether they were Dr. Seuss or Shakespeare. You read anywhere you could; on the bus to school or under your sheets late at night with a light. You read no matter what, and sometimes you read as if your life depended on it.
So, when daunted with the challenge of trying to write, trying to create, it’s easy to be swept up with the focus that most teachers place on you when you first study literature. You try to find meaning in the author’s intention. You analyze every little detail to try to explain some bigger meaning or overall theme. And then after all that studying, you attempt to mimic these favored styles in your own writing. But after all that hard work, sometimes you still find yourself daunted by the task of writing.
Well, don’t fret. The solution is simple. Read.
In the medieval ages, to read silently to one’s self was considered like an act of magic or witchcraft. The common belief was, what use could these words possibly have if they are not read aloud? During this time, reading was meant to be read aloud for an audience like a performance piece. Imagine, living in a time where reading silently was regarded as magical. But there is something magical in that, even in today’s times. As John Connolly wrote in The Book of Lost Things, “stories wanted to be read … They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their worlds into ours. They wanted us to give them life” (3).
As you can see, without the power of you as a reader, those words are just lines and font on a page. You, as a reader, put meaning into those words – no matter what the author intended for the story to mean. You create the images by simply looking at words – no images could possibly reproduce what you create in your head. That, in itself, is pure magic. Being a great writer is synonymous with being an avid reader. You can’t be a great writer without reading. And that’s the simple truth. So, to create a novel worth writing you better start reading. Read stories that inspire you. Read works by authors you admire. Read genres you typically enjoy and find pleasure in.
So, to be a great writer, you must first be a reader. And being a reader, simply means that you’re a magical being. So, go forth, be magical, and read.