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Reading or Writing: A False Choice? -- Writer's Poke #81

For Writers:

What keeps you from writing? For me, it used to be the love of reading. Reading is so much easier than writing. Just absorb the words that others have painstakingly laid out for you. With reading, you can cover 20, 40, even 60 pages in an hour. Does a certain section bore you? Skim it, or skip it altogether.

But as a writer, how many pages can you write in an average hour? Two, maybe three? Then there's the revising, the revising, the revising. The page you write is with you for, perhaps, hours on end. Bored with your own words? As a writer, you don't have the luxury to skim or skip. All you can do is continue to massage meaning and interest into each sentence. Each sentence becomes a piece of the track, and the effort to lay down enough track to take the reader somewhere meaningul is the mental equivalent to building a transcontinental railroad.

So, why bother writing? There are certainly enough people writing today for you to read for lifetimes without end. Why bother making your own writing contribution to an age already overloaded with the written word?

Why write? To fill a need -- there's still a need for your writing niche. As Toni Morrison and others have said, write the stuff that you would love to read. You'll probably find that you're not the only person interested in what you like.

Does your love of reading inhibit the time you dedicate for writing? What ways can you develop to make sure that your reading time compliments your writing time rather than competes against it?

"This is the sixth book I've written, which isn't bad for a guy who's only read two." -- George Burns


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