Want to Become a Better Writer? Read.

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

The crescent moon was too thin to shine through my bedroom window that night. The white light from my laptop shone brightly, its artificial rays nearly blinding me. I stared hard on my blank Word document, waiting for my brain to perform a miracle so I could write elegant prose.

Instead, I got a few jumbled sentences that made no sense. The sentences looked shyly at me, unabashed. I wanted to punch them. Giving up, I close my laptop and shove it in my backpack. I toss and turn, wondering why it so hard to write today.

The next day, I position my laptop on top of my thighs and log into WordPress. This time, I was determined to write something good.

In less than two hours, almost mechanically, I write out four posts, all written to perfection. Even after checking each for grammatical errors, the errors were so minimal — my readers wouldn’t have noticed them.

And then, it hit me — I did one thing differently now than I did yesterday. And the one thing was: I read a book.

If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.

-Stephen King

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, this sentence was one I hated with a passion.

I didn’t want to accept that I wouldn’t be able to write well if I didn’t take the time to read.

It was time to make some sacrifices

Everything comes with a price, and writing is certainly is one of them. I had to decide if I truly wanted to write. To do so, I needed to set aside time to read. This meant spending less time going out and more time alone.

One thing that was common with writers, famous or not, was that they were loners, spending most of their days at home, alone with their thoughts.

Biography after biography made it clear that all writers had spent the majority of their lives in solitude, slaving away on their desks to write masterpieces. And instead of complaining, they knew that reading and writing were the only ways to improve their craft.

Is the Cost is Worth It?

Out of everything in life, the one thing that brings me great pride is my writing. It doesn’t matter how many friends I have, how successful I am at work, or how well I cook — nothing beats a well-written post.

When Stephen King wrote that sentence, he never knew that it would be the sentence all writers would hold above their heads. Stephen knew, just like most people learn at some point in their lives, that just because something is simple, it doesn’t make it easy. It’s easy to tell someone to set aside a few hours every day to read, but how easy is it to implement this? Not easy at all.

Writers write. Dreamers dream.

I just wanted to make this post to remind myself and others that there are thousands of books that teach you how to write better. Thousands. But the wisdom behind each book tells us that we have to sacrifice our time to get what we want. And sometimes, it’s hard to accept.

When my writing gets rusty, I know that it isn’t because I’m tired, hungry, or lazy. It’s because I didn’t oil my brain for months, and the gears are dusty.

It’s time to oil up our brains and get to work.

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