A Study in Style

Blog Post Prompt: Do we need to like everything we read? Why?

The definition of the verb form of need is “[to] require (something) because it is essential or very important.” So while we don’t need to like everything we read, we do need to read things we don’t like.

Everything written was written for a reason: to inform, to entertain, to intrigue. From all of these things, we expand our world-view and our knowledge. Many times, a work of writing will do two or more of the above things, and the pieces we like usually entertain us. On the other hand, sometimes an author’s writing style simply does not agree with what we like to read. In these cases, we learn more about our own writing style.

Many authors over the years have said that if you don’t read, you can’t write. Does this mean if you are a journalist you need to read novels? No, it doesn’t. A journalist should read articles written by other journalists to expand their writing styles and trick.

Every now and then, I will look back at some of my early writings in each of the forms of writings I do. Usually, I cringe. I also, however, have a chance to admire how much I’ve grown. In the six years since I started writing fiction, I have read a myriad of books and stories. Each of these readings have given me new phrases, new styles, and new knowledge. From this new information, the way I write has changed drastically, becoming partially a compilation of the styles of my favorite authors – the ones whose books I’ve read so many times that the plot line and phrases are practically ingrained in my mind – and partially a work towards perfection of the style I first started writing in. This combines into how I now write, which I know will continue to change as I continue to grow.

There have of course been things that I’ve read that I haven’t liked. From these I also grow. The interesting thing about not liking something you’ve read is that sometimes it’s not the content you disagree with, but the style. In these cases, I think our writing styles change more than from the things we do like.

It’s easy to pull from things you like. A sentence structure, a plot twist, or an interesting fact can all spark your own creative process. It’s far harder to create something from you would rather have left untouched. In these cases, it is important to figure out why you don’t like the other piece. Is it the content? Is it the format? Or is it the author’s style? If the last, we should figure out how we ourselves can avoid writing the same way, which can sometimes drastically change the way we write.

We shouldn’t like everything we read because if we did, we couldn’t learn everything we should learn about our own writing. So struggle through those long articles and boring textbooks. You’ll come out better for it in the end.

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