Being a Reader-Writer

By Niamh Newman

As someone who studied English Literature through the entirety of secondary school, I find it difficult to write without regularly reading! In my mind, the two are very much intertwined, with many of the most prominent authors of our time taking inspiration from books they have read in order to enhance their own work.

 Alex Michaelides’ psychological thriller The Silent Patient, my favourite book of 2021 so far, contains multiple references to Greek mythology and tragedies, a genre which is of interest to Michaelides and which he has stated will also be present in his next novel. This leads me to believe that being a keen reader is commonplace among many successful writers, as it not only shows a foundation of passion for the written word but can spark ideas for their own work which may not have previously surfaced.

Personally, I couldn’t enjoy writing as much as I do if reading wasn’t  one of my passions. Since I am in the early (and difficult) stages of writing my own novel, reading books in the same genre as mine has proved enormously helpful when it comes to crafting my own setting, characters and plot lines. When I am reading a book I particularly enjoy, I am able to ask myself what the author does well and how I can implement similar techniques in my own writing. On the other hand, when I am reading a book which I find boring and difficult to finish, I can make a note of what doesn’t work so that I can try to avoid falling into the same trap. Being able to analyse the work of other writers in this way has greatly improved my writing, to the point where I cannot imagine ever finishing this novel if I don’t carry on reading regularly!

At the end of the day, I believe that reading and writing go hand in hand and it’s almost impossible to imagine one without the other. If you don’t enjoy reading other books, then how on earth are you going to finish your own? This is why I find it so difficult to comprehend not being a reader-writer: I don’t know how I would find the motivation to finish my own writing without consistent inspiration from the books I read and enjoy, reminding me why I started my novel in the first place. Writing is difficult, but reading makes it a whole lot easier.