For The Love of Reading

*To celebrate my one year blogging anniversary, I’ll be posting some of my favorite posts from 2013 through the month of December*

For most writers, our passion for words stems from a love of reading. I can still remember being curled up on my grandparent’s bed while my mother read to me from a Richard Scarry storybook, pages fading and the cover ripped clean from the binding. Books were my first love and yet, the more I write these days, the less time I seem to have to do the one thing that inspired me in the first place.

I miss reading. I miss having a nightstand full of books. I miss having a place to run when life got hard and the world felt too big. I miss learning. I miss feeling like I’m not alone. I miss feeling.

I didn’t mean to abandon books; I hadn’t even realized I had until my own writing recently grew stale. I’m not naive. I know how important it is for a writer to read, and yet every time I’ve had a free half hour here or a free day there, when I have to choose, I always choose writing. Because I have deadlines. Because I have plans. Because if I want writing to be my livelihood then I have to make sacrifices.

But what I failed to acknowledge is that, for a writer, opening up a book is not the same thing as reaching for the remote. Reading may feel like some kind of reward, and when you love it, it is. But that’s not all it is. Reading is a training ground. It’s where us writers go to sharpen our skills and pick up new ones. It’s where we go to marvel at the genius of our peers and feel inspired.

Reading and writing don’t exist on opposite ends of a creative spectrum but they should be intertwined–one unable to sustain itself without the other. I can feel it in my writing, my words wilting without the proper foundation. Because I haven’t been reading as much as I should. I haven’t been letting myself. But here and now I am finally giving myself permission. To read. To explore. To indulge in the very thing that made me fall in love with words in the first place. To close the laptop, curl up on the couch with a book against my knees, and keep growing.

*Originally posted on 9/1/13*

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8 thoughts on “For The Love of Reading

  1. […] For The Love of Reading (laekanzeakemp.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Bravo. If more wannabe writers understood this, the world would have many more contemporary good books. You learn to write well by reading great writers and adding your own stamp after acquiring the critical skills. There are no shortcuts, NaMoWhammo BS (or whatever it is) or not. “Author” is not a status symbol, it’s hard work–and fun 😉

    • It is hard work and it’s really important for writers to be open in every sense of the word. We have to be willing to humble ourselves in order to grow and we have to be willing to expose ourselves to ideas outside of our comfort zones. That’s where reading comes in. And not just reading, but reading GOOD books. There’s a lot to learn from any book but we can’t just read in our genre and we can’t read only fluff. It’s diversity that will bring out the best in us.

  3. habitsofthought says:

    I have, in the last year rediscovered the wonders of reading for entertainment. I was burned out for a while, but now books and I are together for the long haul. Goodreads helped me get back into reading, because I found friends that have the same taste as me in books and they gave me good suggestions on what to read. Because reading should be something wonderful and not feel like a chore.

    • Yes! Your comment just made me think of the wide-spread, false opinion many people have of reading. Most people remember being force-fed classic literature in school and it creates this association between reading and work. But reading isn’t work, especially for writers. Reading is literally the fuel we use to run on and without it we have absolutely no foundation on which to write our own novel. I absolutely love Goodreads and have heard from so many people how it single-handedly inspired them to start reading again. I just hope that even more people come to realize how rewarding reading can be, and how fun!

  4. wickedmuse says:

    I hear you! Even though I read, it is just never enough. And as Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. ”

    • Yes! SO true and I absolutely can feel when I haven’t been reading enough. I don’t like to read too much while working on a first draft but in between projects you better believe I go on crazy binges to get my reading in. Then I come back to revisions or my next project inspired and with a fresh perspective.

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