Monday, April 23, 2012

Nothing In, Nothing Out: I'm Not Reading Enough

Back when I did the DFW Writer's Conference last year, the keynote speaker said, in part of her keynote speech, "Stephen King reads four hours a day and writes four hours a day.  That's fundamental"*  The quote got posted to Twitter, and then retweeted like crazy until it reached the level of public consciousness that my wife** quoted it back to me.  Of course, upon hearing this, many complained that they, unlike the esteemed Mr. King, do not have eight hours a day to devote to their craft.  This misses the point: it's not the total hours, it's the ratio.

Of late, my ratio has been off.  Very off, and I think that it's had an impact on writing the rough draft of Way of the Shield.  It's not quite writers' block, but it is a sort of slow-as-molasses drip of words that isn't coming as easily as I would think it ought to be.

And I think the problem is I simply haven't been reading like I should.  The Writer Brain is a hungry beast, and if nothing goes in, nothing comes out.  I've been justifying this to myself in saying that I haven't had time to read, but I know that's really not true.  The truth is I hadn't managed my time of late to make reading a priority.

That's got to change. 

So I went to my bookshelf and took down all the books on my ever-growing shortlist.  Here it is, in no particular order***:

So, starting with Kingdoms, which I'm about a third of the way through, I'm going to devote the next few weeks to reading all of these.  I'm going to TRY to read one a week, and write about each one here. 

Because, when it comes down to it, being a better reader makes one a better writer.  I'm kind of amazed when I hear people say they want to write a book, but when pressed they basically will tell you they don't read at all.  AT ALL.  It shocks me. 

If anyone has suggestions about reading order (in other words, what I tackle after Kingdoms), I'm all ears.

*- I cannot comment on whether the quote is accurate of Mr. King's actual habits. 
**- My wife is relatively off-the-grid, and certainly not connected to the writerly blogosphere.  If something viral reaches her, it mean it's gone airborne.
***- The order is pretty much "Order I grabbed them off the shelf and made into a pile".


Rebecca Schwarz said...

True! Thanks for posting. You've inspired me to step up my reading. I have a pile of books on and around my night stand that have been ignored for far too long.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

So what's in your pile?

mike said...

I'd say look at a couple book pages of each and mix the styles up. Maybe mix in some nonfiction here and there too.