“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or tools to write,” Stephen King.
I’d love to take this quote and turn it into a banner for displaying at workshops and literature events, especially where the participants include:-
1. Automatic Writers
The “Oh, I’m just the vessel, I write it as it comes” crowd who bring their pieces to workshops, fail to comment on anyone else’s work and lap up comments on their own. However, as their work appeared intact, they won’t actually bother to edit or refine it.
2. Prolific Writers
Like the guy who boasted he wrote 300 poems in one year and wanted me to read every single one of them. Would he read one of mine in return? He’s probably still bombarding editors now, but I’ve never seen his name in print.
3. Hyper-Sensitive Writers
The “Oh, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” crowd who want a slap on the back just for writing something. The idea that just writing something is only the start, is so alien you can provoke tears or sulking tantrums at the mere suggestion their magnum opus might benefit from a little judicial editing, like putting an apostrophe in the correct place to take the ambiguity out of the first line.
4. Certificated Writers
Not because of insanity, but because they were willing to pay to get their pieces and/or biography published in vanity presses as so puff themselves up as “real poets” (whatever they are) to justify their doggerel.
5. Writers of the Romantic Ideal
“Oh, I never read, my writing might become tainted”. That’ll be tainted by taste, skill, craft and an exclusive quality called readability, will it?
Writing isn’t a mystic ability divined by those with a true sense of calling (that would exclude me for a start) and is pretty useless if it’s unreadable. There aren’t any short cuts. The only way to learn to write is to read. If you don’t read, you’re not a writer.