By: Zachary Arcivar
It is possible that you think of yourself as a reader, but not a writer. If so, then what is it that is keeping you from writing? The fear of people not liking your ideas? Not knowing where to start? These are obstacles that all writers face at one time or another, and they’re perfectly normal.
So the question is, are you writing as much as you’re reading? For anyone that isn’t, you should ask yourself why. Now, you may not identify as a “writer,” and you may not see a huge benefit in working on your own fiction pieces, or non-fiction memoirs, but the truth is that reading and writing complement each other in incredible ways. The more you write, the more deeply you will enjoy reading and vice versa — I can promise you that. Here are five reasons to start writing and keep writing:
1. Good old-fashioned practice
Practice makes perfect, right? If you’re a new writer and don’t have much or any experience writing anything outside of English class, the more you practice, the more natural the art of writing becomes. Sometimes, it can be really hard to start a new piece of writing, especially if it’s a genre or style you haven’t ever worked on before, but that’s totally normal, and we all go through it. What’s important is to not let that initial struggle scare you away from writing, because once you begin, the flow becomes easier and easier as you go on.
Practicing will also allow you to find your own personal ritual that you follow each time you write. For me, I make some coffee and begin writing in the morning in my bedroom with my journal handy on the side of my laptop while the sun comes up. For you, it could mean going to a specific coffee shop to type, or scribbling words onto a white board to get new ideas, but whatever it is, as long as it benefits your craft, then you shouldn’t question it. For a really interesting writing process, look at Ernest Hemingway; he woke up each day, put on his slippers, and began writing on large sheets of paper against his bedroom wall before he would begin typing on his typewriter. Hemingay also spoke of a “juice” that all writers have, and that we just all have to find out what process gets our juice flowing. So don’t be afraid to just start anywhere! Go to different environments, see how they affect you and inspire you, and soon you’ll have your own personal process that will make you an unstoppable writing machine!
So how does this connect to reading? Well, when it’s your first time really trying to write some of your own original ideas, you’re probably going to write in a style or format similar to the author that you are currently reading, and this is nothing to feel bad about! Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and it is only by writing like other people that we discover our own unique styles and formats that fit us, which brings me to my next point.
2. Writing will help you think in different styles and outside of your own creative box
Last semester, I was in a class where I was assigned to read a book by William Faulkner titled Go Down Moses, and it was maybe one of the hardest books I had ever had to read. Faulkner is notorious for his deep descriptions and his extreme attention to details of both environments and the thoughts of his characters. Even though it was a difficult read, it had a major payoff that I didn’t realize until I was finished with the book, which was that I had been writing more like Faulkner when I was reading him! It turned out that I had been subconsciously adopting the style that I found so hard to understand.
Picking up books that we usually wouldn’t read because they aren’t our usual genre or style broadens our horizons as both readers and writers. If you had never read a science fiction book, and then read something about an alien civilization, you are suddenly introduced to an entirely new universe full of possibilities that you may have not seen or thought of before. This can inspire countless ideas firing off in your brain, and can bring you to write things you may have never written before, which can change your focus when you think about what you want to write.
You won’t be a master of your new genres and ideas from the get-go, but with some practice, you’ll be off to new territories in no time. By reading into these new territories, your writing will continue to evolve, and you’ll get closer to finding your own unique style.
3. The more you write, the more comfortable you become
This one may seem a bit obvious, but I think it’s just as important as the other points made. Being nervous about starting a new idea or telling a friend about something you have been working on is totally natural, and it’s part of the writing process. Sometimes, I find it best to keep ideas to myself until they fully blossom, and other times, I find it more helpful to bounce ideas around between friends in order to let those ideas develop and mature.
Over time, you may find that you have to spend less time struggling over ideas and more time letting them take shape naturally while you write. By giving yourself the freedom to write about whatever y
ou want without censoring yourself, you inherently open up multiple literary doors for yourself. Obviously, the more comfortable you are writing, the more writing you will produce.
It doesn’t have to be a specific type of writing either; it could be something as simple as a journal where you jot down thoughts on a daily basis — every little bit helps. I hardly journaled before going to college, but once I started, I noticed the benefits immediately, and I continue to journal about once or twice a day, every day.
4. Writing as much as you read will keep you more conscious of your developing style
The more you write, the more you have to look back on and learn from. Reading back on your old work is essential to developing and perfecting your writing style, and it can be a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a section of writing that you may have forgotten about. I do that all the time, and it’s always an interesting journey to look back at what I was thinking that day and what ideas I decided to put down on the page.
After reviewing your work, you begin to pay attention to any patterns in your writing that reoccur over time, and you also begin to notice any obvious style choices that you’re making. These are important observations, as they play a part in your future writing once you’re conscious of them. On the other side of the coin, you also end up paying more attention to the details within other author’s work and what choices they make in their writing.
5. You’ll stay in a creative state of mind and think about your work more
While you’re reading, your brain is racing with ideas and concepts that are leaping to you from the pages. You are thinking deeply (whether you notice it or not), and being in this mindset is what makes artists thrive. If you’re writing as much as you read, it keeps you in this state of mind even more than usual, and it can help your art immensely.
By staying in this mindset, you open multiple doors of possibility for yourself and your work — you think about things differently. For example, when I get on the subway in Chicago and ride up to Wrigleyville, I tend to people watch. When I do this, I listen to conversations, I take note of how people act and how they speak, and it all adds fuel to my creative fire. Essentially, you are thinking constantly about what you can add to your work, and when you spot a person or object that interests you, you can think about how that person or object can play a role in your art.
Again, you may not identify as a writer yourself, but there is no harm in trying simply to keep your mind active! Who knows? You may find a new passion that you never knew you had! So pick up a pen and notebook or open up a blank Word document and start letting the ideas flow!
To read more on how to perfect your writing, check out The Young Adult’s Guide to Flawless Writing and use code “FREESHIP” for free shipping on your order.