R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I just love this book trailer. Can you guess why?

As we become more immersed in the digital world, the simple joy of reading seems to have lost its glamour. After all, there’s a lot of really cool technology out there and it’s really hard for something as simple as a book to compete.

One thing that’s really disconcerting for me as a writer and a writing teacher is how frequently students who tell me they want to be writers say they don’t read. Ever. I know that because I’m a teacher my insistence that you read is nothing you haven’t heard from other teachers. Our kind has been talking about the merits of reading since the the days of feather pens and ink wells. So, let me phrase it to you another way:

If you don’t respect writing enough to read the work of others, why should anyone be compelled to read your work?

If that sounds harsh then I phrased it correctly. In my opinion, the lack of voraciousness for reading among budding writers is a plain old travesty. I promise you that no great writer will ever tell you that you can get by without reading. No great writer will ever say, “Yeah, I just don’t like reading. It’s boring.” It just doesn’t happen. Good writers know that reading is absolutely crucial to their success. A writer who doesn’t read is like a video game creator who doesn’t play video games, a director who never watches movies,  or an artist who doesn’t look at the artwork of others. Reading is practice for writing.

I’m not suggesting that you spend your days reading Shakespeare or Russian literature. I don’t care if you read your old Goosebumps books as long as you’re reading. I’m also not suggesting that you stop doing things you enjoy in order to read. I’m just suggesting that you read in addition to doing other things you enjoy. I love to watch a good TV show and I don’t skip out on episodes of my favorites just to read. I also love to surf the Internet. I go on Facebook just as much as you do and I can get lost on Pinterest for hours. Hey, I don’t even read every single day. I do read regularly, though.  I know if I don’t, my writing will suffer and I’ll never get better. Just because I finished school and teach writing now doesn’t mean I don’t have to still work on my own craft and constantly try to improve.

Read things that interest you. Whether you like animals, video games, films, skateboarding, court cases, medical findings, sex, celebrities, decorating, or anything else that exists in the world, there are books out there for you. There are books that you will like. I promise.

Try this: before you see a movie based off a novel, read the novel first. Or go to What Should I Read Next? which is a great website to find new reads. Just type in the title of an author or book you know you liked at some point in your life and the site will generate titles of books you’ll probably like. Is that genius or what?

You cannot become a better writer if you don’t read. Period.

I’m glad we had this talk.

 

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About Jaclyn Sullivan

I'm a full time Instructional Designer and a sometimes adjunct professor of English Composition. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida and I'm a published fiction and non-fiction writer. Check me out on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaclynmsullivan I'm a big fan of post-modern literature and swear by the lessons of Kurt Vonnegut. Some of my favorite writers include Lorrie Moore, Antonya Nelson, Grace Paley, Flannery O'Connor, Louise Erdrich, and Raymond Carver. I like Tom Waits, Andrew Bird, actual birds, pictures of cats, actual cats, animals in general, polka dots, exercise, iced coffee, reading, writing, tv-viewing, the Internet, and food. I dislike rain on days when my hair looks good, sweating, t-rex arms, public bathrooms, books being made into awful movies, and when The Walking Dead is on hiatus.
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One Response to R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

  1. Dan Foley says:

    Good stuff. I couldn’t agree more. The animation is pretty great as well!

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