I’ve already written about the importance of constantly reading in order to be a successful writer, but I want to delve into a much more controversial topic. Recently, my expanding bookshelf was challenged by a friend of mine. He said that I shouldn’t spend my birthday money on books when I still have so many unread books waiting for me on my shelves. This is true, I have plenty of books that I still have yet to read, both fiction and writing books. This friend told me that I should finish reading what I already own before I purchase anything new. I would never suggest anyone spend money solely on books and overlook their necessities or responsibilities, but I thought it would be fun to explain the importance of writers plunking down their money to purchase more books.
#1 Writers Own Books –
Writers not only need to read books, they need to own them. You need to be able to reference favorite openings, dialogue, prose, and the like. You need to have the titles blaring at you, reminding you of your goal to have your own amazing story in printed glory. If you claim to be a writer and don’t own books, that is the same as an artist with white walls devoid of art or a chef with an empty pantry. We aim to produce books, how can we do that if we lack the necessary tools? What are the tools? You guessed it…books.
#2 Books are Tools –
Knowledge has been put into books since The Bible. In books you can learn anything from how to tie your shoes to how to tie a constrictor knot. There are ‘how to’ books and textbooks on just about anything, but books on learning to write is a little more extensive than one might think. Writing is the only art that has so much text to work with. There are lots of writing books, but our best reference books are fiction. Whether you read the great American novel that makes you laugh and weep in all the right places or read a “bestseller” that was lack-luster, you can learn from it. You can figure our what went right, what went wrong, and how you can improve your own work. You are a constructor of stories. Building without the necessary tools maybe doable, but do you want to live in a house of straw, sticks, or bricks? Your novel will need to stand strong if you have any hope of publication and profitable sales. Books teach us how to write and write well.
#3 Writers Read What’s Relevant –
You may have 20, 30, or 100 unread books on your shelves that you could fill you time with, but writers don’t have time to spare. Those may be good books, great books, and books that you will inevitably read, but are they relevant? If you’re writing and are struggling to make your dialogue seem natural, reading a book on dialogue is probably a safe bet. So what happens if you don’t own any books for your immediate needs. Should you read something that won’t help you overcome these hurdles? Of course not. Does that mean you have to BUY a book every time? Of course not. You could go to the library, but that is going to be touch and go. Libraries are an excellent resource, don’t get me wrong, but current books and books on writing are not their strong suits. Libraries are best for research books and for novels that have been out for a while. Use the library when possible.
#4 Writers Support Other Writers –
Writers go to book signings, why? Usually it’s because we like the book and thereby the author who wrote it, but – deep down – we also want to have our own book signing one day. We want people to flock to the store and raving how they couldn’t put it down. We want people to buy our novels. We want to share our stories with the world. We want people to support us in our ambition. In turn, we want to do it for others who aspire to the same. Authors are not our competition, they are out colleagues. They are the people who’ve gotten past all the hard hours and countless rejections to get their work into the hand of readers. No one should be more enthused to attain books from authors than us fellow writers. Someday you will want the same support…you will NEED the same support.
#5 Writers Need Books –
This is something that is difficult for non-writers and fair-weather readers to grasp, but I’ll try to say it in the plainest way I can…WRITERS NEED BOOKS! Books are education, encouragement, inspiration – books are essential. It doesn’t matter if its e-book or print, hardcover or paperback, books are the driving force behind every good writer. I buy books because I love to read. I buy books because I am a writer!