Reading A Lot

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

Stephen King, On Writing

As always, I bow to Mr. King’s expert advice in his book On Writing. And I think he is absolutely right. If you want to be a writer, you must read a lot and write a lot.

For me, the problem is keeping the two in balance. Do you see the little “and” in that sentence? “Read a lot AND write a lot?” That means you have to do them both. Preferably on the same day. Or at least in the same general time frame.

I am a voracious reader. You might even call me compulsive. Or addicted. Add in the fact that the writing part is work (however lovely), and the reading part is fun, pile on the stresses of life, and it’s really easy for me to give the reading side of the see-saw more play than the writing side.

Part of that’s because of the way I read. If the book captures me, then it literally CAPTURES me. I fall into it hard, fast, and deep. Mr. King suggests teaching yourself to “read in small sips as well as in long swallows.” So, I’ve tried to do that.

Except that my small sips get bigger and bigger and bigger until they’re swallowing up my whole morning and I’m running late for work.  But it’s soooo haaarrrdddd for me to pull myself away from a book after it has swallowed me.  I need to see what happens next!  I can’t just walk away!

Giving up on reading is not an option. This is true not only because I am a writer, but because reading defines who I am. Reading IS Betsy.

And so, once again we come back to the theme of balance and discipline.

Being a single, working person striving to be a writer means that time is precious. Reading AND writing must both fit into the hours available. Thus, although I might start my day picking up my current book, I can’t spend my entire morning writing time reading it. And, while I can end my day playing Mahjong to relax, reading must also be on the agenda.

If you want to be a writer, then you must read a lot AND write a lot, and you must balance your life so you can do both.

And if you don’t want to be a writer, then just go read a lot anyway.  Hey, if you’re interested in romantic suspense, have I got a book for you…. 😀





  1. Very important point!! I know I’m avoiding writing when I read something I may not even like very much, but I also know things need changing when I want to neither read nor write….. Blerghhhh!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Lynda K: I know exactly what you mean, Lynda! When I find myself spending more time with my Sims than my books or my WIP, I’m in some deep trouble. (but they’re so cute… LOL)

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