Today’s pearl of wisdom for writers at any stage comes from Kate Southwood, author of Falling To Earth, in a piece she contributed to Writer’s Digest. It’s a simple rule, and one you’ve probably heard before:
Read good writing.
“Another writer once told me that if you have four hours to write, you should spend one of those hours reading.”
While Southwood immediately suggests that this ratio will vary, I think the fact of the writing-to-reading ratio is one of the very first rules of being a writer. In regards to this rule I often remember something my fourth grade teacher taught us when we were drawing sea shells with pen and ink: You should spend as much time studying your subject as you do replicating it. Again, even if it isn’t a half and half or a three to one quarter time split, good reading is essential to good writing because input influences output.
So make time for reading– and choose your books with care. As Southwood says, “I only read novels that make my jaw drop to the floor, force me to read slowly, and make me ask how on earth the writer did that.” Read other excellent writing tips from Kate Southwood in her contribution to the Writer’s Digest column, “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far.”