Read Right: Read, Write

Every now and then I encounter a writer who doesn't read. Writing without reading is like cooking a recipe from a country you've never heard of, and have no idea how the food should taste.

How can a writer learn language and story and imagery unless she herself is enjoying books? When I question the unreading writer, there is usually a reference or two to an influential book loved and absorbed long ago.

Here's an approach by Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth: "Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people...When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, 'Oh, I want to know what So-andso did'—and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you...And the world opens up..."

Make a list of your favorite authors, poets, books, magazines. Read and reread from that list - until the words come through the very pores on your skin.

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