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If you want to write, read.

Buried in the Slushpile

I did not grow up wanting to be a writer. I don’t have any of those cute journals from when I was a kid. My parents didn’t save any sweet little books I made about my stuffed animals—because I never made any. I got a marketing degree in college because in the business school you did presentations instead of writing papers. I hated to write. HATED IT.

So, how did I end up here today?

I was a reader.

I was a comprehensive, “will read anything in front of me” reader. I was a “had to have my reading time limited because going outside and running around won’t kill you” reader. I was voracious. I was insatiable. I still am today.

And it turns out, the first step to becoming a writer is being a reader.

Because although I wasn’t actively learning to write, I was absorbing many of the basics of good storytelling. I was learning how a character grows. I was seeing how a red herring worked, how a quest is structured, how to tell a love story.

So, when I randomly decided to try writing in my early twenties, I didn’t start completely from scratch.

Yes, I did go back and take writing classes. A lot of writing classes. Go get an MA in children’s literature amount of writing classes. And that was helpful, extremely helpful. I’m grateful for every class I’ve ever taken.

But the base was there in the books I’d been devouring since I was nine.

So, if you want to write, if you find yourself stuck in your current manuscript, if you have some downtime between deadlines—there’s only one thing you should be doing.

Hit your library, your local indie bookstore, or download an ebook because the best thing you’ll ever do for your writing career is one very simple thing.

Read.

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