Does Reading Have A Place in Your Writing Goals?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
By Jill Earl

In a ‘Muffin’ post from a couple of years ago, Are You An Intentional Reader?, I wrote of being inspired to develop a reading plan from an article by author Bob Hostetler. His annual plan includes reading a wide variety of authors and genres through the ages for pleasure and to enhance his writing skills.

At the time, I hadn’t thought about how reading intentionally could help in making one a better writer. Intrigued by the notion, I set about creating my own plan.

That first year’s attempt was a washout, simply because I just threw a list together. Last year’s was much more successful, with more thought going into it. Poetry, children’s books, memoir, new fields/disciplines of interest, authors I’ve never read, books I want to re-read, and so on. I’ve included the same categories in this year’s list.

Why do I do this? Well, I’ve always gotten great pleasure out of reading. With the turn of each page, my horizons expand as I learn more about my world. In addition, studying the varied writing styles of new, well-known and favorite authors, then applying what I learn will improve my own work. One of the goals we writers shoot for in pursuing the craft.

This year’s list will focus on more intercultural/multicultural, photography, travel, filmmaking and memoir, since these are areas I specifically want to pursue in my writing. I also want to include more poetry and biography too. And there will be more children’s books, so I’ll be looking for ‘Uncle Wiggily’, my favorite bunny rabbit gentleman to return for a visit.

You can check out the link to Mr. Hostetler’s article ‘The Intentional Reader’ here.

So in between assignments, my favorite book nook awaits, because reading definitely has a place in my 2010 writing goals.

Does it have one in yours?


Steena Holmes said...

I've joined 2 challenges this year - one to read 100 books in 2010 and the other is to read more books in January than I normally would. So I have to keep track of the books I read. My goal is to read 25% debut books, 25% international books and the rest a hodgepodge of whatever I'm in the mood for :) So far I've read 2 books that are considered international - and they blew my mind away! said...

Intentional reading is a wonderful idea. I think that often it's way too easy to get stuck in a genre rut. So I'll join you in intentionally diversifying my reading list this year....for me that would mean more international, non-fiction, and classics.

Jill said...

What great challenges! Are they personal or part of an organized effort? I really like the '100 books in 2010' idea. What were the two international books you read that captivated you?

Since I read few of them last year, I'm with you on reading more classics this time around.

Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed. said...

Successful writers from Anne Lamott to Virginia Woolf recommend that to be a good writer, one must read extensively. What a great challenge to read intentionally!
Thanks for sharing this with us.

Margo Dill said...

I've written an article on this very subject and had it printed twice in writing mags because I think we all forget that reading is so important. I am lucky because I HAVE to read a book a week for my newspaper book review job. I also listen to audio books anytime I am in the car for my children's book blog, so I am hopefully reading about two books a week. Not only do you learn so much--the other day I learned what a long snapper is--but you just become a better writer. It's like osmosis or something. . .:)

Great post.

Unknown said...

On more than one occasion, as Linda just wrote, I have noted that accomplished writers advise aspiring writers to "read, read, read."
Thank you so much for posting the link to Bob's article; I have bookmarked it already.
Ironically, this year I have already blogged about my intentions to continue my lifelong love of reading with 3 selections. I wrote about this earlier at
When my college-age son & daughter were younger, short stories became my preferred choice of reading material as they were easier to fit into a day with young children. Now I am able to tackle the big reads again!
As a poet writer, Poetry has always been a good fit and one to share with my children.
Thanks so much for writing about reading!

Unknown said...

I guess I never thought of intentional reading. I read because I love it and I try to vary my reading so I don't get bored. When I started writing I noticed I was much more critical of what I read...still I don't want to make my reading a chore-its my escape.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I think if you're serious about writing, then you have to be serious about reading! I read tons of middle grade and young adult because that's the field where I hope my book will be published. I need to know what's going on there! And I read writing books because I can always use pointers. And I read the magazines that I hope will accept my articles. Luckily, what I love reading, I also write! Um, that's probably not luck, is it? :-)

Jill said...

I think it's interesting and exciting that many writers have challenged themselves to read intentionally this year. It's so true that we forget just how important it is to read.

I need to begin checking into audio books, perfect for my commutes into work.

Thanks for the link to your site, I look forward to visiting it more often.

I guess because I love reading so much, I seldom find it a chore, even when I read intentionally.

Guess not! LOL!

Steena Holmes said...

Jill, I found out about the challenges (they are national) and joined in. I have all the info on my blog :)

I just finished reading Sarah's Key. This is a book that I will never give up, lend out or loose :) I fell in love with the writer, with her style and passion for the forgotten Jews of France who were sent away to concentration camps. She wove the story so eloquently that I doubt it will ever leave me.
The other is called The Angel's Game. (sorry I can't think of authors off the top of my head). It warped my mind, took me into that desolte place within a writer's mind and fastened the chain so I could never leave.

Unknown said...

Phew! I hope you didn't mis-interpret my comments--I do love reading and the process of making some deliberate choices of reading materials just helps me to keep up with my reading.
Yes, I love to read!
No, I have never considered it to be a chore, more like a much-anticipated activity to be part of my days. Happy reading!

Unknown said...

Cathy: Sounds like a great overall approach to gaining the knowledge needed for writing in a particular area, for a particular age group. Some of my all-time favorite books are written for a younger reading audience. I, too, love to read a variety of writing. Works for me!

Jill: Thanks. Hope you enjoy future posts from time to time. As a poet and writer, the blog is developing along the way. :)

Michelle Kafka said...

Good for you. What an amazing challenge. Both reading and writing have always been a part of my life and I could never give either up. I find my writing is getting better because I read many new and old authors. I am currently reading Nevada Barr's Winter Study and find it a joy to read. Thanks for sharing the inforamtion. Have a great weekend!

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