From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

From Adults to Teens and Everything In Between

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Are What You...Read?


Perhaps if you are Kobe Bryant, Venus Williams or Derek Jeter, you might live by the adage, “You are what you eat.” As writers, I believe that we should amend that to, “You are what you read.” (And trust me, this is a really good thing, or I would officially be the world’s largest peanut M&M.)

When it comes to writing, there are a number of factors that propel us. First, and I believe foremost, we write for ourselves. We write because we are compelled to do it. Some days, I believe that the writing chooses us, and not the other way around at all. I suspect that you know exactly what I am talking about. It’s a little like a narcotic – if you go without for too long, you begin jonesing for that moment when you can sneak away to your private little cubby with pad and pencil, or iMac, or trusty laptop at your fingertips, and tap out a few good paragraphs.

But let’s face it. We also write because we want to be READ. We long for an audience. Whether that audience is our mother, or the review board of a short story competition, or Suzy Consumer, we want to share what we have labored over, the fruits of our pens, so to speak. No matter what your goal – to be a published author with sixteen bestsellers under your belt, or just mom’s favorite – you need to KNOW your audience. What better way to find out what the people want than to be one of the people?

In our writer’s group, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of writers. The gal who writes suspense reads James Scott Bell and Stephen King. The ones who write romance read Nora Roberts and Julia Quinn. Our YA author gobbles up new Stephenie Meyer releases nearly as quickly as I scarf down crunchy candy-coated chocolate pieces. No, she’s not about to become a blood sucking, winged night (or other) creature. However, with every YA novel she reads, she gets closer to her audience.

In order to be a better writer, you must become a better reader. You must read voraciously – the good, the mediocre, and the bad – especially the bad. There is truly no other way to learn and grow, both in and out of your genre. Occasionally, I encounter folks who tell me they don’t read. I can hardly fathom this. Just yesterday, a friend of mine confided that her mother never read until her later years, when she could no longer cross stitch! God bless her little heart, better late than never, I say. But when writers tell me that they don’t read, I find that to be particularly abominable. Not only are they denying themselves and their potential audience the very best story they are capable of producing, but they fail to support their fellow writers. If you don’t know and respect the people you are writing for, you deride what all authors everywhere strive so assiduously to achieve. That’s simply not fair to you, your readers, or all the rest of us writers who do.

Consider it research, a release, or a reintroduction to your readers, but treat yourself to the gift of reading. And try to do it everyday! To support you in becoming a better writer (and reader!), FOLLOW THIS BLOG and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card.

All followers – with the exception of contributors and those who have won prizes within the last thirty (30) days – will receive one chance at winning. Contest will remain open until midnight (EST), Friday, June 18, 2010, at which time Bijoux will randomly pick the winner. Happy writing – and happy reading!

For more from writer Beth Zellner, please visit:


  1. Loved this post, Beth. So true. I always am so thankful that one of the requirements of being a writer is reading a lot of books!

  2. Since time, or lack thereof, is a major issue in my life, I "read" during my commute to and from work via audio books. I've never been such an accomplished "reader" as I am now.

    Nice post. And by the way, do gift cards grow on trees at your house? I know you have a green thumb, but come on!

  3. Great post! I just found your blog through Twitter, and am enjoying it. I think sometimes as busy writers, we forget to be readers too. Something of a contradiction, I think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  4. Colleen, yes, the requirement to read in order to write is definitely one of the benefits of the job!!!

  5. Rachel, ha ha ha! I only WISH I had one of those dang "gift card trees"! I planted some seeds earlier this year, but am still waiting for it to sprout... Even so, I am quite a believer in the power of the bribe ;)

  6. Shallee, WELCOME, WELCOME, WELCOME!!! We really are glad you are here, and we hope you enjoy the time you spend with us! We are presently working on some great guest bloggers, plus more author interviews, and as always, inspriation for our fellow writers!

  7. Reading really is key to writing well I think! Great post


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