You Say You Want To Write A Book

This post is the fourth of a series of six blogs that I’ll write as a participant in the Blog Hop for Writers started by Ruth Snyder. Once you read my post you should “HOP” on over to see what the other writers have to say.

The fourth topic of the six on the Blog Hop is “Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer”

Now, I still consider myself a newbie. Of course I’ve been writing since I could hold one of those chunky pencils in my hand, but I didn’t start classifying myself as a “writer-writer” until about ten years ago. That’s when I sat down to create my first novel.

It was an everyday commitment. I scribbled for hours and hours in notebooks while my baby slept and then plugged away in the early hours of the morning to get what I wrote into a computer. It was something I had to do; otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. Writing is hard work. It drains you and most of the other aspects of your life suffer for your commitment.

That being said, I wouldn’t change it either.

The most important thing I can say to someone who wants to write is you have to read.

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It is so funny to me to hear people say that they want to write a book but in the same breath they admit they don’t READ.

WHAT?

If you don’t read, how can you know how to write?

If you don’t read, why would you even want to write?

When I was a teacher, reading was the thing I harped on more than anything else.  If you can read there is nothing you can’t do. Reading opens up worlds you can never know on your own and to get practical about it, you can read how to do anything.

For a writer, that would mean reading books on craft. It is so important.

But more important, is to read book after book after book in the genre you will be writing. You have to write what you love or the reader will know it. Trust me on that. Even before I dreamed of writing Young Adult books, I was reading them.  I devoured them.

Now I look at this reading as more than just stories. It’s research.

Look at it this way: Haven’t you read a book and you got lost in the words. Before you know it, you were up all night because you couldn’t stand the thought of not knowing what happened next? Haven’t you also read a book and for some reason you felt nothing for the characters? The plot was solid, but the writing didn’t take you anywhere?

That is you as a critic. Your inner voice telling you what is good and what is just…<shrug>.

 I want my stories to be the former…ones that eat you up and won’t spit you out until you reach the back cover.

Will I ever get there? I don’t know, but I read each day like a man starving for words. Every single book I finish helps me become what I want to be: a better writer.

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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20 thoughts on “You Say You Want To Write A Book

  1. Leanne, this is really inspiring. I had no idea about the amount of research that goes into writing, until i took writing seriously. But reading and research is good. It increases your knowledge. That’s a bonus. A person can never know enough. Learning is about growing and maturing in whatever it is you’re pursuing.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. 🙂

  2. Leanne, I’m glad you chose to participate in this topic. None of us will ever be able to claim we know it all. (If we do, we need to stop writing!) I agree with you – reading is essential. I’m thinking we need to add a post on how we fit writing into our very busy lives!

  3. jencudmore

    You are so right, Leanne! You have to do a lot of reading if you want to write. I read a lot of historical romance stories, which is what I write. I just love them!

  4. Yes! Reading is SO important. The first question a writer should ask is “what do I enjoy reading?” The beauty of that is, as you said, research becomes a pleasure. Well said.

  5. I agree Leanne, I love reading and now that I’m writing I too find it’s an enjoyable way to research and not only that it shows me diverse styles, etc.

  6. 2unpublishedgirls

    Yes, Leanne, reading is extremely important to the process. Great post!

    -RB

  7. Great advice Leanne! It’s easy to tell when an author doesn’t do a lot of reading, especially in their genre. Recently I read a romantic suspense (my absolute fav to read and write!) in which the main character was an undercover detective. He and his partner went to a professional make-up guy and had their appearances completely altered. Then they went undercover into an extremely dangerous situation and the first thing they did was flash their badges and identify themselves as cops. I put the book down. Life’s too short to waste on poorly-researched novels 🙂 Thanks for the affirmation that reading is integral to writers (and to all human beings, in my opinion).

    • How do these books even get published?
      And I agree, reading is integral (I want to say fundamental…RIF) for all human beings.
      Thanks for visiting!

  8. Liz Blocker

    I’m with you – reading is essential!! It’s like taking writing classes – you learn with every book you read.

  9. Good observations here, Leanne. I try to write a review of most of the books I read. This forces me to analyze why it worked for me or didn’t. When I really dislike a book, I struggle with whether or not to post those reviews online (mostly I don’t). I agree that figuring out what works in a story is like a mini-workshop of its own.

    • Hi Violet,
      I completely understand your struggle over posting a bad review.

      From the beginning, I decided I wouldn’t write reviews here. I only put out book recommendations. The whole idea of picking apart someone else’s story (if not in a critique group setting where we are asked to do it) feels wrong for my blog. I try to stay pretty positive with my message.

      There are plenty of books I have either shoved unfinished back up on the shelf or came away from them with a bad taste in my mouth. From these I just let myself learn how not to tell a story.

  10. Nobody warned me when I started writing that it would affect my reading. I’m a story-chaser, and used to gloss over poor technique without even noticing it as I read. Now it jumps out at me and ruins some of the stories I’d otherwise enjoy. But oh, when you find a good story that’s well-crafted… it’s an extra-satisfying read.

    • Janet, I’m the same way. Over the years there were books I’ve read that droned on and on about the curtain fabric and the even the number of chairs in the sitting room. I always jumped ahead to the next paragraph. Now I can’t do that.

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