by Kathryn Haueisen
The writing life starts with reading. One childhood pastime that indicated I might someday embrace the writing life was my affinity for reading. Being the only girl in my neighborhood, I spent many summer vacation hours alone reading. When I was 10 or 11, I selected “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens from the library for my summer reading.
The librarian told me it was too advanced for me. That, of course, convinced me I needed to read the book. She was right. I didn’t understand the complicated details about the French Revolution. But, I was fascinated with the way Dickens told the story.
Reading to Resolve Problems
I’ve read my way through every predicament in which I’ve ever found myself. Some of the books were of the self-help variety. Others were inspirational or faith-based words of encouragement. Many were novels that both diverted my focus off whatever the current dilemma was and showed me how a good author writes a compelling story.
My children owe whatever I did right by them to their grandmothers and the many childrearing books I read while they napped. I spend many more dollars in bookstores than I do in clothing departments.
Writers are readers. The two go hand in hand. It is possible to be a frequent reader without also becoming a writer. It is not possible to be a good writer without also being an enthusiastic reader.
I recall sitting curled up in a wingback chair in our living room one day–with a book of course–thinking that someday I wanted to be able to write like the author I was reading at the time. (Pearl Buck, maybe.)
I like to write. As part of my work leading capital campaigns for congregations, I write copy for brochures to motivate people to support their church’s project. Part of my weekly routine now includes writing blogs. I frequently write sermons and articles for magazines. I’ve occasionally written books that I hope inform and inspire others.
I cannot not write. If I get caught somewhere with nothing to read, I’ll start a list of ideas to write about later.
Ways Reading Helps Writers
If you want to be a writer, start by being a reader. Why? Because:
- You’ll be learning the craft as you absorb how other writers phrase things to move an article or story along.
- Reading the work of other authors helps you develop your own cadence and style–your own unique writing voice.
- Reading helps you differentiate between good writing that is creative and compelling versus writing that is dull and confusing.
- Reading supports other authors, especially if you bought their work through a magazine subscription, at a bookstore or via an online source of reading material. Or maybe you’re supporting your local library by checking out reading material there.
- You’ll learn something, which keeps your brain alert and active.
- You’ll increase your vocabulary.
What clues did you have in your childhood that suggested what you might end doing as an adult?
Kathryn Haueisen is a retired pastor who lives in Texas with her husband. She spends her days writing, gardening and wondering what her grandchildren are doing. She blogs about people, places and programs that make helpful contributions to society at www.howwisethen.com. You can read this blog in full here.
Photo by Min An from Pexels