Reading to Improve Writing

I feel a little sorry for my kids. I’m a recovering educator and I know how easy it is over the summer months to forget everything that went in the brain all school year.  So, I have an easy “keep it in there” program going. We have Math Mondays where everybody practices math facts, usually with a card game. Each kid gets a math challenge problem on our refrigerator every week to solve to keep those math juices flowing. We have “read aloud to Mama” while I cook dinner and ask questions for understanding. But their most favorite thing is the timed reading frequency game we play. I time them for one minute on a passage to see how many words they read and we chart it to see improvement over time. There’s more to reading frequency evaluation but for our purposes this is fine.

Reading and understanding what you just read is the most important skill I can try to arm them with, academically. It’s also one of the most important things I do as part of being a writer.

In the day-to-day-work-for-a-living I write businessy stuff. It’s a much different style from the fiction that I enjoy writing. It can be a difficult thing to do the brain switch when going from one to the other. Reading fiction and non-fiction of all types helps me with that a bit (so does good editing and beta readers). It also helps me to evaluate my own writing: what works, what doesn’t, why did this author use the word “totally” twelve times in the same paragraph, that kind of stuff. I read or listen to an audio book every day and have at least two to three books going at any one time.

So far this year (since January) I have read:

  • The Shining, Stephen King (re-read, first time I read it I was 11 years old way back in the 70’s)
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King
  • Divergent, Veronica Roth
  • Insurgent, Veronica Roth
  • Missing 411: Western United States and Canada, David Paulides
  • Black Magic Rose, Jordan K. Rose
  • Ransom Lake, Brent R. Taylor
  • Looking for Alaska, John Greene
  • Ours, Regina Puckett (short story)
  • Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures From the Dark Side, Brad Steiger
  • In the Shadow of the Mountains, M.R. Graham
  • The Body Finder, Kimberly Derting
  • How I Kept My Head When I Lost My Breasts: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey, Sandra Fuentes
  • Four to Score, Janet Evanovich (currently)
  • On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King (currently)

Spurned by my recent stay at the Stanley Hotel, I seem to be on a bit of a Stephen King rant right now. Not such a bad thing, in my opinion.

I write almost every day, too. I get up very early, before my little kids get up, to work on my fiction. Some days the words just flow and my fingers fly across the keyboard and other times it is a flurry of fits and starts. I need to get a better habit down and go from almost to every day. When I write every day things just move better.

My little kids (that’s how we refer to the ones still at home with us) love to write as well. Maybe it’s from watching me, I don’t know. One kid writes hilarious comics in the vein of his favorite author, Dav Pilkey. He’s a pretty good artist and has an excellent sense of humor, granted it is mostly potty humor but that’s what he likes! The twins write about mermaid princesses and hippo-unicorns. Of course these are my girls, so the princesses always know karate or can shoot a bow and arrow or know the secrets of picking berries and save the day (my oldest arrests shoplifters and burglars and the like for a living, that’s the kind of girls I raise).

Plumbing Problems by my kid!

Plumbing Problems by my kid!

Reading does improve my writing but I also really enjoy it. It’s relaxing to get lost in another place or character. I hope I’m not just raising comedians and hero-warriors but readers and writers.

What are you currently reading? What was the last book you read? Can’t answer that? UGH! Pick up a book, will ya! I hope my novels will be on your list when they are released into the wild but for now, thanks for reading this…quiz to follow, just kidding.

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