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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 84 | August 31 , 2008|


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Reading as a writer

Marzia Rahman

MANY of us dream of becoming a well-known writer with dozens of books published, recognized by the reading public and honored by thousands of fans. But only for a very few lucky ones this dream can take the form of reality. So what are the things that make someone a famous writer?

It's a truth universally acknowledged, that no one becomes a famous writer or a writer instantly. This absorbing and inspiring creative activity requires a lot of time, patience, hard work, dedication, talent etc. Another important factor, which helps a writer immensely, is reading. The first and foremost way to become a good writer is to read. There is no denying of the fact that more you will read, the more you will learn and the better your writing will be. So if you want to be a writer, read as a writer, which might eventually help you to become a well-known writer one day.

What to read:
The foremost question here arrives is what to read? The answer is simple- Read to your heart's content. Let one book lead to another. They nearly always do. Take up a great author and read everything he or she has written. Read about places you have never been. Read books that changed history. Read anything and everything from cartoons to journals, from romance to horror, mystery, fantasy, comics and science fiction.

According to novelist John Gardner, “How you write is always an expression-a consequence-of what you have learned from reading. You learn from them, correct in your own work what you dislike in the work of others, pay tribute to work you admire, establish yourself in the tradition.”

How to read:
Another important question is how to read? Once Jawaharlal Nehru in one of his letters to his daughter Indira Gandhi advised her about the right way of reading books: “One should read books slowly. If it is read too fast, one is often liable to miss much in a book. Some light books of course have to be read fast; there is little in them. But a great book deserves a little more time and attention. Think of the pains and the great deal of thinking that the author has put behind what he has written, and when we just rush through it we miss his real meaning, and forget soon enough what we read.”

A very good habit develop is to keep a notebook in which you can jot down anything that pleases you or strikes you especially in a book you read. These notes will help you to remember much and you can always go back to them with interest.

How reading helps a writer:
Reading helps a writer in numerous ways. If you want to be a writer, read the books as a writer. Reading is the best source of inspiration. Through reading you can educate yourself. It is also through reading that you can learn the skill of other writers.

So now the question comes are you being too much influenced by your favorite authors and in the process loosing originality? Are you really creating anything new or just copying another writer's work?

Reading for a writer is a form of work, another way of thinking about writing. A writer is always hunting, looking to snatch or steal, discovering what to avoid and what to make her own.

So is it wrong?
There is nothing wrong in it. There is a unique relationship between reading and writing.

Even the great authors of history have been influenced by their reading of other great authors. For instance: Virgil modeled 'The Aeneid' on Homer's epic poems and 'Paradise lost' is an attempt in English what was done by them in Latin and Greek. Samuel Beckett's doleful plays are partly inspired by the great clowns of stage and screen. Jane Austen was a writer formed most of all by reading. She admired Richardson; she even copied his epistolary method, for 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Pride and Prejudice' were written first of all, in the form of letters. Austen also made fun of the Gothic novels in 'Northanger Abbey'.

So whatever it may call 'warming up' or 'priming the pump', there is no doubt that reading helps a writer enormously. So read, read and read. Read as a writer so that you can learn the magic and formulas of writing. You must read or who else will keep the art of reading and writing alive if not writers? One day your book might be published, waiting for a reader, a fresh writer to read it and learn from it, the wonderful magic and formulas of writing. Bonne lecture et bon voyage!

Source: Internet and The writer's workbook.

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