IWSG Oct: Should writers read?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to share our hopes, dreams and fears with the Insecure Writers Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, and this month’s hosts are; Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Do stop by and say hello to them!

This month’s optional question is:

It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

My first comment would be that by becoming a writer who does read, is where you discover that all those ideas aren’t so original after all! That’s when you start to dig deeper with your imagination.

The more I tried to answer this question, the more irate I found myself at the arrogance of someone who thinks they can write without bothering to read.

How do you empathise with your reader if you don’t read, yourself?

How do you learn?

How do you learn to get better?

It’s like trying to sit an exam without revising! (And I should know, because in my teens I had this stupid idea that I should be able to pass my exams through natural ability, otherwise wasn’t it a form of deceit that I ‘knew’ all this stuff? – Little did I realise then that you retain the bits that are useful, forget the rest and look it up if you need to.)

Natural ability is great, but if you extend that reasoning, then every book would be a first draft, without benefit of editors or feedback.

How can you know if anything is any good if you don’t have anything to compare it to?

If your reply to that last one is that you rely on other people to do those things, then you either have buckets of cash, or you’re living in a dream world. Because unless you can afford to pay someone to edit everything you write (in which case, how does it differ to being a mix of you and someone else?) then you rely on the goodwill of the writing community, where you help each other out by reading and critiquing each other’s work, which again, takes you out of your pristine reading-free vaccuum.

In short, good luck if you don’t think you need to read in order to write. You’re either a genius or an idiot, and both are outside of the circles I run in.

(Gosh! Didn’t realise I felt so strongly about that! Bring on the comments!)

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11 Responses to IWSG Oct: Should writers read?

  1. patgarcia says:

    I can only say Amen to everything you’ve said. I am one of those people that believe nothing is original. Someone, somewhere had that creative idea and in order to discover how deep my own creativity goes, I have to discover the creativity in others. I do that by reading.
    Great points.
    Have a lovely October.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That statement riled a lot of people today! You’re right, if we can’t compare, how do we know?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Juneta says:

    I absolutely agree. Great answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. emaginette says:

    Nothing wrong with feeling strongly about anything. It’s passion and passion can drive a writer to write. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a similar reaction. Apparently, there’s just not that much room for debate on whether writers have to read, or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lee Lowery says:

    I was surprised at how strongly I felt about this issue, as well. The idea that one can write, with originality, no less, without reading just smacks of arrogance.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There have been some really interesting answers to this month’s question. I can’t figure out how writers can write without reading either. Seems crazy to me.


  8. I enjoyed visiting blogs and reading the different responses to this question.
    I can’t understand any person who doesn’t want to read. Does that person know what he is missing? I guess not. 😁


  9. Ronel Janse van Vuuren says:

    “or you’re living in a dream world” LOL. We all do, but then we have to put on our big author shoes and do the work.


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