Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reading For Writers

Do writers need to be readers? The short answer is YES! This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many manuscripts we receive from non-readers. When we receive a manuscript,we will either accept without reservations, accept if conditions are met, or reject it outright. In almost every case where we have rejected a manuscript outright, it is due in part to the author not being a reader.

Reading books should be a part of your schedule each day, a minimum of an hour a day if you are serious about becoming a published author. By reading an hour a day, you are building on a number of qualities that every great author has:

1. Knowledge of subject matter. Read books in the genre you are interested in writing for.

2. Copiousness. Read books from a wide variety of genres. (Want to see copiousness in action? Check out Collision with Doug Wilson & Christopher Hitchens).

3. Writing For Reading. Read consistently and regularly will help you find your own natural rhythm with your readers.

4. Ideas On What To Write. Reading is one of the best ways to brainstorm without thinking about it.

5. Ideas On What NOT To Write. Don't write a book that has already been written. Many would-be authors make this mistake.

Reading is one the key ways to build your skills as an author. Read more, write more, & publish more.

Brad's personal reading guidelines:

  • I read Scripture every day. Everything else I read is viewed through the lens of Scripture. It is not all I read, but it effects all I read.
  • I try to read at least one non-fiction and one fiction book at the same time. More often than not, I will be reading multiple non-fiction books at once. The key for me is that they are in different genres. For example, I am currently reading business (Personal MBA), psychology (Influence), philosophy (On The Shortness Of Life), trivia (Brain Candy), and Christian (Three Gospels). The fiction I am reading currently is actually a true crime type of book, which reads like fiction (Gang Leader For A Day).
  • I will try to read only non-fiction most of the day. Two hours before bed, I switch to only fiction. This was a suggestion from Tim Ferris, I believe in The Four-Hour Workweek, and it has proved very helpful for my sleeping habits. Reading non-fiction before bed gets the brain juices flowing too fast.
  • I try to finish a book every day. I average 4-5 books a week, not counting the manuscripts I read for the publishing business. Reading is a large part of my job as well.
  • Most people who don't read insist it is because of time. I don't have the time not to read . . . once you build reading into your life, it is hard to remove it without feeling like something is missing.
  • As you can tell by the variety of books that I am reading now, I read from a wide list of genres. I have found it very helpful to read books simultaneously and follow what you are most interested in at the time.
  • I stop reading a book if I don't like it. Don't feel like you have to trudge through a book you don't like - just stop and pick up a more interesting one.
  • I review almost every book I read on Amazon (of course, besides the ones published by our company). This small commitment has made me both a better reader and writer.
  • I write in my books. A lot. I plan on sharing more of this in the future, but in the meantime, if you aren't writing in your own books, see How To Read A Book and Mindhacker.
Hopefully this is helpful to see how at least one other reader actually reads. Post your own reading plans or thoughts below in the comments section.