Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #98

Guest blogger Hayden Chance on reading vs living.

Live a life worth writing about. If you spend all of your time with your head in a book or staring at a TV screen you'll never write anything that has true wisdom or changes any minds. Most writing courses teach students to maintain a steady diet of other people’s words. But that’s vicarious living. If you’re not living a life that gives you wisdom (direct experience) then what’s the point of writing about it? People will only be inspired by those who are genuine.

Dixon says: I think many readers do vicariously live more interesting lives through reading, and I don't believe that's a bad thing. For most writers, I think reading is partially for sheer enjoyment, partially for sanity (getting a temporary reprieve from your own characters and plots), and partially for craft (seeing how other writers turn the mundane into the magnificent). If, as Hayden says, some writers use reading as a substitute for engaging with life, their work will surely lack the ring of truth.

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