Thanks to @crystalposey on Twitter for posting this on her blog first.
Stephen King has given the world a book of writing advice that boils down to one thing: To write you must read.
There really to no other way around this. Really. Even my MFA program is structured so. Of course I can go into scene and squeal, a Hero’s journey, and other devices used to tell stories but what it comes down to it, it’s about face time with the page.
And there is no short cut to this either. Whether it’s on a Kindle or Nook or even just reading the book old-school style, it’s about the writers interaction with the text, what they observed and the patterns they noticed. At the end of the day, these are the best teachers when it comes to the art of writing.
So how to become, what my advisor calls, an apprentice to books? How to surrender yourself to them? Simple, you just do. You just pick up a book, open it up and with a pencil in hand underline what stirs you, what jumps out. And then study. Why did that jump out. How did the author do it? Why did they do it right there. This is where learning happens, where craft meets execution. Thats when you go from just someone who writes as a hobby to someone who practices the art.
But it all starts with reading. And then writing. And then reading some more.
Yes, it IS that simple.
And like Mr. King said, one day you will run across a book so badly written you’ll say to yourself “I can’t believe this was published.” That’s when you realize the difference between art and commerce.
But that’s a whole other discussion for a whole other post.