When learning to write the number 1 tip you will probably hear is "read, and read a lot". You'll find no true disagreement here, but at first it had me scratching my head. I do read a lot, maybe not a huge variety and maybe not as much as others, but I'm quite sure that I'm considered quite well-read for my age. With that in mind, does that mean I've fulfilled the requirement of reading a lot to be a writer? Of course not, even if I've read a lot I haven't read nearly enough. You can never read enough. That isn't the only reason though. Those books I used to read were read for enjoyment, and not for the intent if learning.
This weekend I read Isaac Asimov's "Foundation and Empire". I read the first one as a guy enjoying a story, but this time I read as a writer. This little difference, which had little effect on the actual process of reading, actually had a difference in the effect of reading. By reading with the intent to learn I was able to recognize the elements of Asimov's writing that made his story so compelling. Now I don't only know that I like Asimov, but I know why I do.
So when someone tells a writer they need to read, they need to know that just reading isn't enough. Reading with intent is how we learn.
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