Promiscuous girl

My friend Damien recently outed himself as a polyamorous reader, and asked if others were as well. My response was the confession that I am not only poly about my reading (I usually have bookmarks in 5-7 books at once), but that I am promiscuous, fickle, demanding, and needy.

The one piece of advice to beginning writers that seems to be consistent across time and space is to read. Read everything. Read to find out what you like, read to discover what you hate and then think about why you love and hate what you do. Read in your genre to discover what's been done before and read outside of your genre so your writing isn't myopic. Read the classics and read to discover the current state of literature. Read what's winning awards, and read what's selling millions.


Read because while there might be overlap between what you like to read, and what is well-written, the two are not one and the same. Read because the best way to learn to tell a story is to see how someone else does so, to pull back the curtain, and see what is behind it. Read, because to paraphrase Samuel R. Delany, your writing is only as good as the last thing you read.

Have reasons for what you read - and yes,"to be entertained" is a reason and a good one. Read because you want to learn how to do something in your writing, or how to not do it. Read something that makes you weep, makes you laugh, makes you think differently.