Elizabeth: Writers Read

My writing has been derailed recently (and this post delayed).  I blame Stephen King and his writing advice for that.

“Read, read, read. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” ~ Stephen King

I don’t know about you, but when I find a series that I enjoy reading, stopping after just one book and going back to working on what I’m supposed to be working on is rather like eating just one potato chip and walking away from the rest.

Who does that?

Advice for how to be a good writer typically stresses the importance of reading.  Besides being entertaining, reading lets us enjoy new styles and different worlds, which can spur our creativity and challenge us to stretch our writing wings. In the past weeks (or months) I’ve definitely been excelling at this aspect of being a writer. 😊

In Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway talks about the importance reading, focusing on the benefits of learning to read as a writer –concentrating on the craft and the techniques and choices of the author.  Deconstructing a story can be very helpful in understanding how the various pieces all work together to create an interesting, engaging tale or, conversely, where things break down and cause you to lose interest and wander away.

Regardless of why you read – whether to study the craft as a writer or for the sheer pleasure as a reader – reading can help you grow as a writer while expanding your horizons and entertaining your mind.

One way to combine reading with helping other writers is to volunteer as a judge for one of the many writing contests sponsored by RWA chapters and other groups.

I got a notice in my newsfeed today about the Virginia Romance Writers and their Medallion Awards.  Virginia Romance Writers, chapter #19 of Romance Writers of America® is an organization for writers of all levels, from unpublished writers working on their first manuscripts to award-winning, bestselling published authors. In their recent post, in addition to lauding their winners, they also put out a call for judges:

Also, we’re always interested in finding new judges. This contest is different from many in that it’s judged by READERS. If you’re interested in learning more, hop over to http://virginiaromancewriters.com/.

This is hardly the only organization looking for contest judges.  So, next time you’re looking for something new to read, consider reaching out to one of the many writing organizations that sponsors contests and see if they are looking for judges.

Who knows, you just might wind up “discovering” the next great story.

For those who have judged writing contests before, have you found the process to be beneficial to you in any way as a writer?

Elizabeth: Read!

I recently read Stephen King’s On Writing (if you haven’t read it yourself, I highly recommend it).  It is part memoir, part writing advice, and completely entertaining.  My copy has dozens of passages marked and one that really resonated with me is a quote Michille listed on her “That One Rule” post a few weeks ago:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:  read a lot and write a lot.”

The “writing” part makes obvious sense – if you’re a writer then you do actually have to write, otherwise you’re just somebody thinking about being a writer.  Reading makes sense too if you think about it.  We all started out as readers and were swept away by great stories and great writing.  Reading lets us enjoy new styles and different worlds, which can spur our creativity and challenge us to stretch our writing wings. Continue reading