If you don’t have time to read…

“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.

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5 Responses to “If you don’t have time to read…”

  1. flaverflav Says:

    I like that!

  2. emmalee1 Says:

    Thanks for dropping by. I’ve met all five types and they really do ruin a workshop…

  3. Six Tips for finding Time to Write « Emma Lee’s Blog Says:

    […] is standard advice from published writers, but how do you do it around a job, family and finding time to read? Here’s tips for finding time to […]

  4. Six Indicators that You are Ready to Self-Publish Your Poetry « Emma Lee’s Blog Says:

    […] Six Indicators that You are Ready to Self-Publish Your Poetry 1. You read extensively, sometimes for pleasure but also to increase your understanding of how good poems work. You know you can’t be a writer if you can’t read. […]

  5. Should Writers read reviews of their Writing? « Emma Lee’s Blog Says:

    […] If you don’t read, you can’t write Posted in literature comment. Tags: criticism, publishing, reviews, writing. 1 Comment » […]


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