At the turn of the new year, someone asked me how she could become a better writer. Were there any online resources that could make her a better writer? What tips did I have to offer this would-be wordsmith?
At the turn of the new year, this same person posted on Facebook that, in 2013, she was setting the goal to read four books. Four. Books. Not per month. Not even per quarter. Four book over the course of the year.
I understand that not everyone likes to read. It’s not easy for everyone, and it takes time and effort that some people don’t think they have available. Nonetheless, I believe that one of the keys to becoming a better writer is to read. A lot. Everything. All the time. I don’t think I read nearly enough—my goal this year is to read 30 books and I also read dozens of magazines and long form pieces over the course of any given month—but to read only four books in a year? I was not only surprised but saddened to hear that someone who wants to make her living as a writer reads so infrequently.
Now, this person was talking about writing for magazines, newspapers and in other public spaces, not letter writing like I talk about on this blog. And certainly, to write handwritten, personal letters to others doesn’t require studying storytelling tactics or strong sentence mechanics. Nonetheless, I’ve been chewing on the relationship between reading and writing for awhile now, and I would be willing to bet that people who love letter writing also read a lot. People who love to learn about other people through letters are possibly interested in reading stories. Letter writers also know to set aside time for something they love to do, and, for many people, reading is a hobby that gets pushed to the side. Understanding the importance of making time for a passion is something snail mail enthusiasts understand. And maybe it’s just that creative, innovative side of us letter writers that leads me to believe they also like to read.
So, I’m curious, are you a letter writer and a reader? Do you think the two are connected in any way?