The Art of Knowing and Doing

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Pointers
Tags: , , , ,

Art is part of the human nature and there is no way around it.

Writers, you probably have heard the saying: You can’t write if you don’t read. (there are hundreds of paraphrases) Usually an author or reader tells you this smirking, whilst having a firm grip of a five hundred page monster beneath their arm. Sometimes I wonder if they can be used as some sort of armour. Anyway… the person telling you this have a logical case for interrrupting your thoughts. There are many writers out there who are better than you and you need to learn from them.

What do you have to learn from them? I don’t believe you need to make it your mission to adapt your writing, but  rather that you need to read their work critically and make mental notes. However as soon as you approach your story you need to have forgotten about them. Reading will only make you a better writer in the same degree studying art makes you a better painter or photographer. Even though you can be influenced. It is through the trials of errors that we learn and really hone our skills as writers. I would suggest that you read less, but that you do it more critically. If we can pick up good habits subconsciously then surely we can learn some bad ones too. Just take a hard look at life and I dare you to disagree with me. Your subconscious does have faulty filter.

If I still haven’t convinced you, I want to present my logical argument that reading should not be glorified to the point that authors miss the point by neglecting their writing. Take a literate human being and give him some novels to read. He does not have to be an avid reader. He just needs to be fluent in a language. Now tell him to critique the novels. The chances are that his critique will be almost as valid as a critic’s. Why is that? Remember my opening? Art is part of human nature. We know if narrative isn’t working. We know what bores us. We know what excites us. We know what makes a story good. We know these things… not because some great writer told us these things, but rather that we are part of a curious species that wants to be entertained.

So I wholeheartedly disagree that reading a lot makes you a much better author. If you can speak, you can write. (assuming of course that you are literate) I laugh at the fact that authors preach this idea of reading like an obsessed person, yet they fail to tell us to watch more movies or to go see plays. I am not saying you shouldn’t read. No, I am saying that you should write more and read more critically, because there is a little voice inside of you that knows the truth.

Write till you can’t. Read your own work and others’. Criticize it. Do this over and over and over again. Broaden your skills using any method necessary… even if it is only watching TV and reading the occasional book. (critically) I am telling you… art is in our nature.

  1. D.I. Ozier says:

    I agree with you to a point. Writing and rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting) is the most reliable way of honing your skills and becoming a better writer. However, reading is also incredibly important. For example: I receive a lot of manuscripts that are clearly written by people unfamiliar with the state of the contemporary publishing industry, causing their books to seem cliched or out-of-touch. Good writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

    Obviously, you don’t have to read everything on the market (that’s both useless and impossible), and reading in and of itself won’t make you a better writer. However, writers who don’t read anything at all have a far worse time trying to become published authors.


    • stefooch says:

      I see your point. I mean most authors do too. We are hypocrytes if we don’t read. The fact remains that even some great novels have huge errors. So, if I can only tell people to read critically then I have made my point. I have read maybe 18 novels. Most people will laugh at me and say, “You can’t be a writer.” Then when I am thinking I reminded myself that I can. I have written a novel when I was only turning 17. It had many flaws, but I could see them. No one told me what they were. I just knew and the fun is still in the edit. Then some of my readers pointed out flaws and I agreed. Reading must have improved my writing, but I have grown sick of people telling me to read stuff that I do not like. Every other person glorifies an author and then I can only stomache it a little. So, yes I admit that I read, but nothing prevents me to put my thoughts down.


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