Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wide Reading Makes For Good Writing...

The more you read, the better your ear is for good writing, and the better able you are to write as well as you hope to. In every single instance in my life--and I can say it’s a long life now--I’ve never met a writer whom I considered better than me from reading the work, who wasn’t also better read than I was. In every single instance, they knew more. I don’t mean knew more information. I mean they had been exposed to more; they'd had more words, more brilliant sentences and lines, more art, more true expression run through their minds. The brain is an astounding recorder. It records everything, everything. You have in your memory, as brilliant and absolutely present as now, the apparently meaningless moment of bending over in a hallway at three years old to pick up a sock. Every single second of your life is recorded there. And so when you read, when you give your beautiful instrument, your brain, the nourishment of great writing--the more of that treasure that you can feed it with--the deeper and richer are the verbal and eventful resources you have to draw on when you write and revise, and, consequently and not by accident, the better your ear is for finding the best ways to say what you hope to express. Read. Read. Read. And write.


  1. 10 Questions with Harold Bloom from Time Magazine.

    Do you worry that people will stop reading?

    We live in an age of visual overstimulation. Between the pernicious screen, whether television or motion pictures or computers, and all of their fallouts like BlackBerrys and that sort of stuff--they destroy the ability to read well.

    So how can writers fight against that?

    Writers are, in the first place, readers. I tell every writer I've ever known, either they are deep readers or they cannot become real writers. Read only the best and most challenging and traditional. And reread it.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly. And yet I also think that we don't have to torture ourselves (as it seems Bloom might be saying with "the most challenging and traditional.") Read and re-read language that speaks to you in the way that you most enjoy. Whenever anyone asks me what book made me want to become a writer, I answered honestly, "The Official Preppy Handbook," edited by Lisa Birnbaum. The satire of it spoke to me as an 11 year old. It still does.