Stephen King, Jeff Goins, and how reading can help you become a better writer
Have you read a Stephen King novel yet?
If you have, there’s no doubt in my mind you were spooked for a day or two or even longer after reading hundreds of pages of his riveting horror fiction.
Stephen King is a one of a kind storyteller and his gift as a writer is exquisite.
His stories may all tackle the same chilling elements fenced in our personal nightmares but they’re all distinct from the manner he told every single one of them - making millions of his readers all over the world probably sleeping with the lights on after reading his novels as well as inspiring writers like us to achieve even just a fraction of what he has already accomplished.
But while it’s easy to dismiss Stephen King’s genius as innate, the legendary novelist himself reveals that he does not merely rely on his talent to come up with epic bestsellers, he also employs other tools to enhance his craft.
His big advice to writers?
According to Mr. King, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Unfortunately, if you’re an aspiring writer, there is no shortcut to honing your craft in creating your manuscript. It’s not as easy as going to You Tube or buying a manual to learn step-by-step how to create an alluring introduction, fatten up your content with engaging details, or slam with satisfying passion the conclusion of your self-written document.
It takes more than your innate talent to do that.
Writing a good piece requires reading tons of available information, related or unrelated, to your subject to convince your readers to read your manuscript from top to bottom.
Reading gives the writer not just data and information but a taste of a variety of voices and treatments in writing a subject. It exposes the writer to the many facets of writing and gives him or her access to the brilliant, complex minds of other writers that are different than their own.
I started writing when I was 9 years old but my love for reading started before I even went to school and my older sister had been a big influence in my writing journey.
Back when she was winning essay writing contests and being the chief of our official school paper, I was secretly following in her footsteps by devouring her books at home. I’ve read her Nancy Drew Mysteries, Choose Your Own Adventure, and her Sweet Hearts, Harlequin, and Mills and Boone “Cinderella” stories. I’ve also read her novels by Sidney Sheldon, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Michael Chrichton, Ken Follett, and Dean Koontz. And in spite of being a scaredy-cat-I-hate-horror goofball, I have read most of Stephen King’s novels courtesy of her library.
In the Philippines, senior high school students were required to read our national hero’s two famous novels, Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” but even though I was only a freshman high schooler back then and because I was curious, I “stole” my older sister’s text books and read both novels one uneventful summer before school started.
Heck, I even read her tattered copy of “The Odyssey” to pass the time.
Growing up, I’ve read more and more books expanding my interest from fiction to non-fiction. “The Tao of Pooh”, “The Te of Piglet”, “The Lord of the Flies”, Robert Fulghum’s inspirational books, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, The Harry Potter series (because who doesn’t), and “The Little Prince” are among my favorites.
I’ve read classics, contemporary and literary fiction, and instructional, self-help, and motivational books both from popular authors down to the virtual unknowns whose ideas and style of writing were oftentimes, as thought-provoking.
How reading helps
As an author, my first short story of less than 3,000 words did not have any dialogues mainly because I didn’t know how to make my characters talk. I could only tell their stories as a narrator but I had difficulty putting words in their heads or mouths, to say the least. But through constant reading and exposure to films and TV dramas and sitcoms with a make-believe soundtrack to aid my thought processes, I progressed to complete an 85,000 word novel with dialogues and monologues.
As a freelance writer, my reading had always been more focused, targeted towards the specific topic I would be covering.
Honestly, I can’t build anything to save my life but give me a writing job to sell your product whether it’s an airline, a vacation destination, a hurricane protection system, a garage door, a catering service, construction, interior design, transportation services, or even your own self as a brand, and I will deliver – through the help, of course, of reading and skimming through tons of research and related information.
The bottom line
If you want to be a writer or survive in the intricate world of writing, you have to embrace and develop a love for reading especially now that information changes by the millisecond. You have to be on top of your game and always be in the know regardless of your genre, niche, or goal as a writer.
You have to read.
The legendary Stephen King said so.
Modern best-selling writer Jeff Goins said so. Click here to read his blog about it.
I said so, too.
Now open that book or browse the web and start reading.
If you have a list of favorite books, put it in the comments section and let’s compare notes. Together, we can encourage the world to read more.
Click here to take a peek inside my novel FOBOLOUS.
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