Why Reading is Critical to the Writer

atkins-bookshelf-literatureConsidered one of the best books on writing, as well as one of Time magazine’s top 100 nonfiction books published, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft delivers plenty of honest and helpful advice on the craft of writing, including this gem: “If you want to be a writer,” explains King, “you must do two things above all: read a lot and write a lot.” And many successful authors would agree: there are no shortcuts. King continues: “[We] read to experience the mediocre and the outright rotten; such experiences helps us to recognize those things when they begin to creep into our own work, and to steer clear of them. We also read in order to measure ourselves against the good and the great, to get a sense of all that can be done. And we read in order to experience different styles…  Reading is the creative center of a writer’s life… The trick is to reach yourself to read in small sips as well as in long wallows.”

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For further reading: On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft by Stephen King, Scribner (2000)

Write What You Know

atkins-bookshelf-quotationsPeter Stone: “Do you think that it’s common for young writers to deny the worth of their own childhoods and experiences and to intellectualize as you did initially?”
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “No, the process usually takes place the other way around, but if I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told. Pablo Neruda has a line in a poem that says ‘God help me from inventing when I sing.’ It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.”

Excerpt from Peter Stone’s interview with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The Art of Fiction,” that appeared in The Paris Review No. 82 (Winter 1981 issue).

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For further reading: theparisreview.org/interviews/3196/the-art-of-fiction-no-69-gabriel-garcia-marquez