Tuesday, December 6, 2016

TIP TUESDAY: READ

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

When I took the class required to become an accredited writing tutor, our professor told us that people don't learn to write by diagramming sentences (thank God for that because I don't remember how to do it).

Instead, people learn to write by writing.

I want to go one step farther: People learn to write by reading.

I've heard many professors and writers say that the best way to learn to write is by reading the great stylists. Of course, they meant Thackeray.

I don't think you have to read Thackeray, but I do think you need to read great writers and read a variety of genres.

Are you in love with mystery novels? Then put aside your mysteries for a few months to read Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler.

You read every vampire story that bites you? Try Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov.

Read widely. Read something to which you've never been exposed. Never read The Great Gatsby? Check it out and know what it is to write lyrically.

Expand your book horizons. Soak up Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

How many books have you read from the Modern Library's choices and Readers' Choices for The One Hundred Greatest Novels?

It's not that I want you to stop reading your favorite books. It's that I don't want you to become stuck in a rut. And although imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, don't try to write like your favorite writer. Learn from writers of so many genres and styles that you're able to write like yourself.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


How I approach writing:

Thanks for sharing the chickens with us, fishducky.

34 comments:

  1. i agree with you dear .actually with both thoughts.
    i being single woman in household find very less time and hardly to read anything .
    i don't know i am learning or not to make my self better as Enlish is not my native language but still my passion for sharing my heart is leading me to write .
    wishing you a very happy week ahead .

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  2. Very wise words there Janie. I love crime novels but I started a book club years ago (which has now disbanded) and our goal was to broaden our horizons so we read a wide variety of genres. I thought I would gag when we got to the romance novel month but was pleasantly surprised by Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Never would I have thought to pick that up in a bookstore but now I have her whole series!
    Opening oneself to all that's out there: good wisdom!

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I've heard a number of people praise the Outlander series.

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  3. I agree! Reading a variety of books not only helps you write but it helps you think outside of your own box, too. Even helps people speak better, I think. Wonderful advice, Janie! :)

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    1. Reading broadens one's horizons. I know many places I've never seen because I read about them.

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  4. Very true, Janie, I agree! I've always read widely, from the great classics of literature to the utmost trash. It's all grist to my mill.

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  5. That's some really great advice! I mean it. How can one write effectively if one never reads? (That especially holds true for learning to spell.)

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    1. I've known some people who read a lot and still couldn't spell for shit. Maybe it's some disconnect in the brain, or maybe some people simply don't care about correct spelling.

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  6. I remember watching Hugh Downs years ago who said when he was fired from one of his TV gigs he took a year off and read one hundred classics, which he claimed was the best education he ever got.

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    1. I know of a college where the curriculum consists of reading classics.

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  7. I'm sure a lot of writers can relate to the little comic strip, Janie :) Great advice about reading quality literature in order to improve your own writing skills. Helps you identify what great writing *is*. I've read 29 of the titles on the Modern Library's Top 100 and 21 of the Readers' Top 100. How about you?

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    1. I've read fifty-five from the Modern Library list and thirty-three from the Readers' list.

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  8. I don't think I've ever gone a day without reading. Okay, maybe a day or two, but that's about it. I'm always reading. I've read some of the greatest novels but not as many as I probably should. So maybe I'll put aside the couple of hundred books on my shelves waiting to be read and pick up one of those next. Maybe :)

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    1. When my kids were young, some days I read The Little Red Caboose twenty times. At least I read, and my children grew up to love reading.

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  9. I don't write but I do read a lot although never read any of the classics just saying

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    1. You write! You write your blog, and many people love you through your blog.

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  10. I waste a lot of time reading the same book over and over again. I've read Pride and Prejudice five times. That's four other books I could have read!

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    1. I don't consider that a waste of time. I've read Pride and Prejudice more than once, and I adore the mini-series with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. *swoon*

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  11. Some great new ideas for books to check out. My daughter is reading The Great Gatsby for school right now, and I have considered taking a peek.

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    1. The Great Gatsby is my all-time favorite novel. It's beautifully written and doesn't have a wasted word. I hope you get a chance to read it. You might enjoy discussing it with your daughter. My kids and I read Great Expectations at the same time. Every night at dinner we talked about it and laughed over some bits. The next Halloween, my daughter was Miss Havisham.

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  12. Congratulations on your win from the Chubby Chatterbox blogger. I am having fun reading your blog!

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    1. Thank you! I'm excited about winning the painting.

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  13. I am that chicken. Love Bel Canto. Ann Patchett is in the top five of my favorite writers.

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    1. I finished The Magician's Assistant a few days ago. Oi! It's so good.

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  14. I love Anne Tyler - one of the all time greats. You reminded me that I haven't checked to see if she has any new books I might now have read yet. Off to do that as soon as I hit publish on this comment!
    Absolutely LOVE the chicken and sadly I can relate to her more than I care to admit.

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    1. Anne Tyler says that A Spool of Blue Thread is her final novel, but since then, she participated in a Shakespearean project and wrote Vinegar Girl, a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. I haven't read Vinegar Girl yet.

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  15. You know, it is funny. I had a hard time reading when I was younger and didn't really enjoy it much. But after I pushed myself, I started to get better and enjoy it. A year later, that's when I started to write. So, I do believe that reading helps with writing. :)

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  16. Congrats in winning the Chatterbox's painting.

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  17. Congratulations on winning Steve's painting. I did a count and read 22 of the board's books and 26 of the readers choice. Suppose there are a lot of books out there for me to read.

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