Writing Tip #11 – Reading Is Not A Passive Sport

I love writing. I love teaching. I love teaching writing. I love listening to writers talk about their manuscripts. I love problem solving with writers. I love the delicacy and boldness of writing. These tips are things I’ve learned over the years that have held me in good stead and kept me going through the hard dry times. I hope they help you.

And hey, they are only one minute long. Click here.

When I was at pursuing my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I had to read a lot. And I had to think critically about the books I was reading. Over the course of two years, I wrote ten critical essays and one critical thesis. I was a little intimidated but my friend and colleague Varian Johnson said, “Pick one aspect of craft that you want to think about more deeply and pick a book that love and examine it.” My first essay was about Omniscient Point of View in Kathi Appelt’s The Underneath. I had a blast. The point is: You must read. You must read books in your genre. And you must read critically. What’s working on the page? How is the writer successfully (or not) telling this story? If you can, keep a journal. For writers, reading is not a passive sport. But it is very very enjoyable way to keep your muscles in shape.