Readers Become Writers Who Want Readers. Right?
(Read in just over :03)“I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.” ~ John Cheever
Long before a person even thinks about becoming a writer, they’re almost always a reader. And more than a casual reader. No, more like a book junkie. Like me, I’ve always been happiest with my nose in a book. I have to wonder why there isn’t a descriptive term (outside of bookworm, Poindexter or nerd) for readers who read a lot. After all, there are frequent flyers, points junkies, foodies, gamers, gym rats, fanatics, groupies, loyalty members, shopaholics, alcoholics and workaholics. Wordy as we may be, we’re a tribe without a name.
There’s no twelve step program for bookaholics
Obsessive readers can be seen wearing tee shirts with witty quips for instance “I like big books and I cannot lie.” Their library card is dog-eared and often doubles as a book mark. As for me, I went hard core when I got Amazon Prime and one click shopping. Over time, books began to stack up in so many places that my family ran an intervention and got me on Kindle. “Hi, my name is Betty and I am a reader.” But no, there is not a twelve- step program for compulsive readers.
In the most severe cases, we become writers. We’re addicted and hopelessly smitten by the power of the written word to paint pictures, pierce the psyche, inspire, terrify, provoke or inspire. It’s as if we reach a point of saturation. We begin overflowing with phrases and sentences and long to put our own words on a page to stir the emotions of others. My friend Mary Jane gave me a book recently. Every word is a pearl and I am intentionally reading it ever so slowly so it won’t be over. Oh my goodness, how I wish I’d written it! Somebody tell me you’ve felt it, too!
The transition from reader to writer
The challenge? Input is easy, output is hard. An addicted reader-in-recovery sits down to write and sees something quite unfamiliar; a blank page. The cursor winks and taunts me to fill it with something significant. I often type a sentence or two, then hastily press back space. It’s too much. Suddenly I’m feeling exposed. Am I sharing too much? Will I upset someone?
There’s a remedy for this but like all worthy efforts; it’s simple but not easy. The prescription is simply to write. Every day; write more, delete less. Write more, read less. Believe I am enough. At first, the phrases come out clumsy and unlovely. It’s like learning how to skate or dance. It takes time and work to craft a graceful phrase.
Over the last few years, I find myself in a shift from savoring the deliciously well-spun phrases of others to creating some of my own. Little by little I begin stringing words into sentences, knitting them into paragraphs, sewing them into pages. It is done one word, one sentence, one paragraph, and one day at a time.
The big temptation is to stop and read just one more title and thinking it will hold the answer. My advice to anyone who aspires to write is to abandon that. Your gift is deep inside you, begging to be unwrapped. Today can be the day you decide to take on the yoke of discipline. A reader becomes a writer by writing every single day. Resist the temptation of asking someone else to read it and tell you they like it before you post. Be brave enough to put it into the world before it’s perfect. Summon the courage to keep writing.
“Words are a lens to focus one’s mind.”~Ayn Rand
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