The Reader Who Writes

“By reading only six hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month a great deal of instruction which I now feel myself to want.” – Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Six hours to read every day! I could only manage that is I gave up sleep. Even when I retire from my day job, I will be hard pressed to find a couple hours for pursuit of this happiness. I plan to use 8 hours or more every day for writing.

Are there people who think six hours to read whatever you wish to read is too much time? I am borderline dyslexic, but my love of reading pushed me to get past that issue. However, my brother-in-law has a more serious issue with dyslexia, and never likes to read for pleasure. He would not find six hours a great pleasure or gift.

For me, six hours would barely be enough. I’m a slow reader, compared to either my husband or my best friend from high school. And Bella Andre, a recent guest speaker at my local Romance Writers of America chapter meeting. She is a book a day reader, and claims there are a large number of readers who also read at that pace. This guarantees a constant market for the books we write, as long as they are awesome books.

I imagine the perfect number of hours for each person to spend reading each day is much like your “sleep numer” or your cholesterol and blood pressure. When I feel energized and upbeat, I want to clean, garden, write, and cook. My number would be low, maybe an hour or two.

When I am depressed, down-hearted, and have low energy, I could read for six plus hours, but also use up hours playing solitaire on Facebook, posting despondent status updates, and napping. And probably no time writing.

Usually I experience seasonal depression, during the holidays in the winter months. I can’t lose weight, can’t stick to an exercise program, and don’t get much done. I read many pages.

This winder seems to be threatening to last a longer time than usual. I am not in a part of the country being hit by any Polar Vortexes. I am the victim of an economic downturn for my family, and worrying about it is the last thing I should be doing. I need to keep a joyful mind and a grateful heart. As long as I am taking all the steps I can to improve things, I must release the outcome and relax.

And so we come back to six hours or more of reading. This escape mechanism has not only merits in letting me vent emotions on behalf of characters I love, but also can increase my vocabulary and teach me things I didn’t know before. All while getting my mind off my problems.

About dot com has a great collection of information on why writers should read and how reading helps with your writing.

A discussion on Good Reads begins with a statement that writers who don’t read can be picked out of a stack of submissions. The implication is that their writing is very poor.

Write to Done shares this quote, “To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo And goes on to say there are only two ways to improve your writing. Write a lot and read a lot.

It’s all very well to say reading will help your writing, a statement I do agree with, but what style of reading will exactly help the writer? Here’s an amazing blog on the subject. And why I do read more slowly than most. I’m afraid of missing something, and thus not understanding the story!

How do most writers feel about reading? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a list of quotes by some talented people on the subject:

So you should not be surprised to discover that not only is there a text book out there called Reading for Writers (in its 14th edition), but also a book on reading suggestions for writers:

I have a comfy chair with an ottoman, and my parrot loves to hang out with me there. He is busy redecorating the back of the chair, it’s very abstract in design. I’m reading Drums of Autumn by Diane Gabaldon, part of the Outlander series. I have a cup of tea, and nothing to do for an hour or so. Picture me there with my feet up, with the timer set for sometime in the future. Have a great week!


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