|Author of Free to be Fabulous|
by Debbie Hardy
Image courtesy of phasinphoto
I didn’t read a book for 30 years. No – really – I didn’t.
One requirement of high school Advance Placement English was to read an assigned book every week. My dad considered reading a waste of time, so when he saw me with a book, he would tell me to get up and do something useful instead. I’d close my book, clean the bathroom, and vacuum the house. Very useful.
Unfortunately, he said it so many times that I began to believe it. When I had to quit college, I quit reading too. Reading was something you did alone, so it was selfish, and I couldn’t afford to be selfish with a husband and children.
Many years later, my sons were grown, my husband had passed away, and I was alone. I decided to write a book about dealing with Bryan’s cancer, so I attended a writers’ conference. Many of the speakers and teachers there said the same thing: “To be a good writer, you need to read at least an hour a day.”
Wow! I was expected to read. Every day. For an hour. I thought I had died and gone to heaven!
Image courtesy of sattva
Most of the time, I had three or four books going at one time. I would leave them on my nightstand, on the couch, in my purse, and in the car for whenever I had a few minutes or maybe a whole hour.
And you know what? Reading really helped my writing.
Whether the book was good or not, about writing or another topic, I learned something from each one. A poorly-written manuscript showed me what not to do and gave me an idea how my readers would feel if I published a book like that. Good writing demonstrated what to do, whether in fiction or non.
Since I write nonfiction, I was afraid that I was wasting my time with romance. But as a widow, I needed the romances, so I kept reading them. And that helped me to write dialog. I don’t use much dialog in my how-to books, but when I do, it’s pretty good.
Once, I was talking with a writer and told her that my “job” requires that I read at least an hour a day. She responded, “Boy, I wish I had a job like that. I’d love to read an hour every day.”
“Aren’t you a writer?” I asked. When she nodded, I replied, “Then that’s part of your job description. Now get to work and read!”
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
Try it. Read for one hour. You’ll like it!