Have you ever heard of the phrase “read widely?” Many famous authors share this common advice. Many people read often, but possibly not widely. Next time you’re at the library, pick up a different genre and try to learn something from it. Maybe it’s a section that will teach you how to incorporate romance into your own writing or chapters that show true character development. You are essentially reading with a purpose. And if it’s a good book, you won’t even realize you’re learning. But it’s not just from the good books that you can gain knowledge. You might read a book and realize that it can teach you how NOT to write.
On a blog post by Cate Hart, she describes what’s it like to find what she felt was lacking in her own writing. http://www.corvisieroagency.com/blog/read-read-and-read-some-more
Maybe you won’t have the eureka moment like Ms. Hart but if you’re always reading something and choosing to read ‘widely’, you may find bits and pieces that are missing from your writing.
Studies have shown that writing leads to improvements in emotional and physical health. One such study had college students write about traumatic or stressful situations for 15 minutes a day for 5 days. A control group was given the task of writing about frivolous topics. The study showed the long-term effects of the students who wrote about their deepest feelings reported significant improvements in their mental and overall physical health. (via The Royal College of Psychiatrists).
These studies reveal that along with working out, eating healthy, and getting a goodnight’s sleep, writing can be it’s own therapy. Does it mean you have to sit down and write a book? No, just a few minutes every day can help “detox” your day and help clear your mind.
I recently attended my first writers’ conference that included the opportunity to ‘pitch’ agents for a modest fee. ‘Pitching’ is a common activity when want-to-be authors have the opportunity to network with agents. Having been in sales for the majority of my career, I looked forward to my first pitch. I had four during the course of the conference.
Each pitch was to be no more than ten minutes. I found the experience very educational and supportive. The agents were very gracious with their comments and suggestions. I learned I committed possibly the biggest faux paus when attempting to secure a relationship with an agent. I self published my book, did not market it or sell many copies and attempted to get them interested in it. Dah! Lesson learned. Nonetheless, several expressed interest in the next book in the series and encouraged me to continue to write.
I would highly recommend the pitching experience to anyone wanting to have their work published. It is one rung on the ladder of learning experience.
Reading, which could only occur if there were writing, is believed to have begun in 3200 BC. There is debate as to whether it started in China, Mesopotamia or Mexico, but thank goodness it did. Reading enables and fulfills us in so many ways when considering instruction, information and enjoyment. The platforms that have been created to support and share writing range from cave walls and scrolls to the internet and tablets. Can you imagine a civilized world without the written word? Without books, emails, texts, newspapers (well, that medium may be all but extinct), love notes, detention notices, parking tickets, billboards, doctor’s reports, assembly instructions, etc., our world would be something less than civilized.
So, the next time you are reading something, which more times than not is benefiting you, be thankful and celebrate – March is reading month!
I am currently on location doing some on-site scouting for my 2nd book in the deceit series, “Deadly Deceit.”
It takes a lot of concentration and patience. You can’t rush the writing process.
As you can see, I am close to perfecting the methods.
Pura Vida, amigos.
Check out a free sample of Deliberate Deceit on Smashwords!
2nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards
Entry Title: Deliberate Deceit
Author: Mitchell R. Stevens
Judge Number: 43
Entry Category: Genre Fiction
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 4
What a great title and great cover! I was really drawn right into the plot and although it was not totally original it was extremely well written. This author is a solid storyteller with a real future in political thriller writing.
The thing that did surprise me was the hint of romance in the novel. It was both unexpected and quite nice, in my opinion. I think this novel could easily be converted into a successful screen play. Very impressive from beginning to end and worthy of a mention is the author’s skill at keeping the reader hooked.
Nice pacing. nice mix of narrative and dialogue and well-developed characters. Their motivations remained clear and realistic throughout. Smooth transitions make for mostly flawless reading. I would caution the author to watch for white space on the page. What I mean by this is the author’s tendency to write long, chunky style paragraphs with no breaks or pause in the narrative. I would have liked to have taken a literary breath now and then.
Really, other than that, it was hard to find fault with this entry. Just really impressive and enjoyable throughout. I hope to read more from this author in the future.