a lot

I’ve written about one half of this before. Good writers read.

Stephen King agrees with me, so I must be right. (Actually, I’m pretty sure he beat me to the punch on this one, so technically I agree with him. Still, I feel I’m in good company.) What’s more, King completes the picture. Good writers do two things: they read a lot and write a lot.

I spent years saying I wanted to be a writer and belly-aching about the fact that I hadn’t yet fulfilled any element of that dream. I didn’t even have a short story published. Nothin’. I can clearly remember sitting at dinner with a friend one night, talking about my dream and how much I longed to be moving forward with it, and he looked across the table at me and asked, “So, are you writing?”

I pushed food around on my plate. “No. Not yet.”

He smiled and, without a shred of condescension or sarcasm, said, “Well, maybe that’s a good place to start.”

If you want to be a writer, write. You cannot get around this. Even if you feel you have no chance (or even inclination) to be published, write. Write a blog. Keep a journal. Write down your dreams every morning. Write long, narrative letters to friends and family members who live out of town. Write something, and write often.

Oh, and read. Read a lot.

Those two things are, I think, the key to developing as a writer. Yes, you can learn a lot from how-to-write books and from classes and fiction workshops, but the experiential learning of exposure to good writing combined with the trials of producing your own works will always eclipse formalized training, because when you read and write you learn something that cannot be taught any other way. You learn how to love words. How to appreciate language. How to caress sentences and phrases, bending them to your will and guiding them onto the page in a way that tells the story inside of you that so wants to get out.

Besides, reading is fun. And if you want to be a writer, writing should be fun, too. God knows, if you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason!

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

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