Saturday, May 4, 2019


The rhythm of the writing life is not always smooth and steady. There are bursts of productivity; there are lulls. There are times of research, revision, backtracking. There are times when an entire project gets shelved. And sometimes the words just won't flow at all.

What's more constant is my reading habit. No matter what's happening with the writing, I can always engage with stories as a reader. Sometimes I'm studying the craft by reading; other times I'm just immersing myself in the world that made me want to be a writer in the first place. 

I read widely, passing from poetry to long-form nonfiction to magazines to novels and back again. Woe to the people who ask what I am reading, because I will tell them. Do they want to hear about the memoir, the novel, the oral history, the biography, the book of poems, or the essay collection? I'm not even mentioning the news articles or blog posts!

I'm grateful such a feast is available to me. Anywhere from half to three-quarters of the books I read in a given year come from my local library; the books I buy are a mix of new and used. I also reread what's already on my shelves.

The first tip I give in any writing workshop I teach is this: read. But to me, reading is less the writer's obligation than it is the writer's great benefit, and joy.


  1. I read widely too, Jennifer. And the books are a mix from my personal library to the town ord county library to purchasing new and used books. I love poetry, which takes a little longer to read because I try to break it apart to fully understand to the best of my ability what the poet is trying to say. I look at how the poet put the feelings, the images together.

    For me, I tell myself that reading is my reward for working hard on a manuscript. I love to get lost in a story or biography or historical essay. I try to take note how the writer of the piece put the story or information together. I'm always learning something new.

    And I truly understand the words not coming or in my case, staring at that stupid blinking blip on the blank page. I try to clear my mind by enjoying walks by myself. I try to consider what I'm attempting with my work in progress and see if I can move forward.

    All best to you, Jennifer!

    1. Thanks--and good luck in filling those blank pages!