Writers are Readers: Looking Ahead

It’s December again, which means many of us are reflecting on the past year as well as looking ahead to the new one. What are you most proud of in your writing life this year? What do you hope to accomplish as a writer next year?

For me, a theme that keeps coming to mind is one we’ve explored on the blog recently: writers as readers. Throughout the year, we’ve seen plenty of posts with references to great books we’ve read and how they’ve helped us as writers, including the Writers are Readers series from Helen Boswell (NA), Erin Shakespear (MG fantasy), Rosalyn Eves (YA), Tasha Seegmiller (WF), and myself (MG). So, in addition to writing goals, I’m going to be thinking about reading goals over the next few weeks.

So far in 2015, I’ve read ninety-nine books. Six YA, eleven adult, and eighty-two middle grade and chapter books. (I know it’s crucial to read widely in the genre and age group I’m writing in, but I may have taken that to a bit of an extreme.)

If I look at the picture of what I read this year, there are definitely changes I want to make for next year. I think it’s well worth our time to examine not only how much we’re reading, but what we’re reading. Are we giving ourselves breadth as well as depth? Are we reading books that truly challenge us, as readers and as writers? Are we reading the kinds of books we aspire to write–bestsellers? Award winners? Life changers?

One of the most beautiful expressions of this idea comes from author Richard Peck. (Note to self: Read more Richard Peck this year.) Here’s what he said:

“We write by the light of every story we have ever read.”

Reading truly brings light into our minds, as human beings generally and as writers specifically. I love this image of lighting another candle that will bring illumination to my own stories. The more distinct sources of light we have, the more shadows are lifted, and the more we’re able to see things clearly, on a broader scope and scale as well as in focused, intricate detail.

What are your reading goals for the upcoming year? What kinds of candles do you hope to light for your own stories through the books you read?

6 thoughts on “Writers are Readers: Looking Ahead

  1. I've been reading more this year outside of reading for my job (academic), and it should be of no surprise to me that I've also written more this year than I have in the past. There are some situational reasons for that, but I'm definitely more inspired to write when I'm reading good stuff. This year I read for breadth, next year I want to be more focused and get deep into a genre. Great post!

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  2. This was incredibly poignant to me. Been going through some stuff and realizing that in doing so, I've neglected several things that I've loved, reading being one of them. For me as a person, and as a writer, I need to change that in 2016.

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