From a Reader to a Writer

As a child, I found that my most memorable adventures happened between the pages of books. Whether I was off to Never Never Land, wandering around Wonderland, or deep in the Hundred Acre Woods, I found solace in worlds other than my own. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life. I truly believe the hundreds of tattered and shelved books prepared me to be the writer I am today. What we absorb as readers, we use as writers. We may not always do it consciously. We may hope that we can write as well as our favorite authors. Either way, reading prepares you to be a writer.


Throughout my writing journey, I’ve learned that much of my fiction is an amalgamation of what I’ve learned from other stories. For the novel I am currently writing, I rely heavily on classic children’s literature, contemporary fantasy, and Southern Gothic fiction. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is assisting me in molding my protagonist and the fictional town where she lives. However, the town is also loosely based on the one I grew up in, so in blending my own narrative and borrowing ideas from others, I am creating. I would also credit Neil Gaiman for helping me seamlessly blend magic and realism. In deciding how to pace the fantastical moments of my novel and balance them with realism, I’ve found myself revisiting texts I read for a Magical Realism course I took in graduate school. The most difficult part of writing this novel has been finding the right balance –creating a world that others can envision and relate to while incorporating one that does not exist. Like the words of an incantation, if you are able to recognize the right combination of believable and unbelievable elements, magic can occur.

Some Advice Related to Reading & Writing:

  1. Read in your genre. Read outside of your genre. Think about the different voices and styles in the texts you are reading.
  2. Write in the books you are reading. I know you think those pages are sacred, but highlight, underline, and write notes in the margins. If you have these notes and resources to refer back to when you are writing, it will help you tremendously.
  3. For a writer, reading is not a hobby. Reading needs to be a habit. Read as much as you can and as often as you can. Create goals for reading. I keep a calendar and log the days that I am writing and reading and how much I have accomplished each day.
  4. Carry a book with you everywhere you go. You never know when the opportunity to read might arise. On days that I have time to eat lunch outside of the office, I always take a book with me.
  5. Experiment with your writing craft by using other authors to fuel it. Steal a beautiful sentence and riff off of it. Borrow a character to write a narrative or fanfiction. Examine sentence structure, diction, and tone and consider how you might borrow another author’s voice and strategies for your own writing. As much as we don’t want to be thieves, the narratives we read influence our writing.


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