Reading to write well is nothing new. Many writers recommend reading as a way of learning what works and what doesn't.
Lately I've been devouring books - a novelty for me in a busy world. Those moments on the train when the carriage ebbs along the track from the bayside to the city are my place to disappear between the covers of a good book; so much so that on occasion I've almost missed my stop!
In the past, I confessed to being a fickle reader, but lately that hasn't been the case. I've been reading everything from chic lit to award-winning non-fiction and finally read Eat Pray Love for the first time.
I read for all sorts of reasons - to be entertained, to switch off my brain, to learn, to be inspired, to immerse myself in another culture and simply for the pleasure of curling up on the lounge on a rainy day with a good book (a rare treat).
I don't think as writers we need to read the genre we write all the time. Reading other genres can open up new ways of approaching our writing and perhaps inspire us to try our hand at something new.
I believe that writing is a constantly evolving form and we should push the boundaries to tell our stories in new ways. Sure there are proven formulas for writing stories, but where's the challenge in that. It would sadden me to think that until the end of time we would continue to follow the same formula and books would look and read the same as they have for centuries.
Fortunately the digital age presents new opportunities and whether we like it not, readers are demanding new ways of receiving information, or at the least - multiple ways.
Take Sibella Court for example. Court has perfected the art of creating a tactile reading experience and allowing her work to live beyond the page. She has 10,000 Instagram followers (@sibellacourt), 3079 Pinterest followers, a store The Society inc, a blog, some very cool Vimeo clips and more. Watch this clip to find out what her new book is all about.
Obviously Court's work lends itself to these visual platforms and while it could be perceived as purely marketing, it's also authentic story-telling which is why it works.
However we tell or promote our stories, there are some things that will always remain true:
- Write with honesty - tell it like it really is; the gritty stuff and all.
- Discover your own writing voice - we all have a unique way of seeing and describing the world and a right to express that.
- Release your fear of being judged - accept that you will be and there will always be people who don't like your work. Think of it like primary school all over again!
- Read, read, read! - for whatever reason.
- And one for the digital age - experiment, explore and create new ways of telling and promoting your stories.