Saturday, January 4, 2014

Limbering Up the Brain

Q: What’s the best thing you can do if you want to write a book? (Outside of actually writing)
A: Read!

I say this a lot to people who ask me how they can get started writing. How can you write something if you haven’t seen a good example of writing? I could spend several minutes explaining to someone how to launch a spheroid projectile using a monofilament matrix supported by a circular lattice held at a 90° angle to a planar surface, transferring 1,000 Newtons of energy to the spheroid, thereby launching it on a parabolic trajectory into an opponents territory of defense.
Or, in just a few seconds, I could pick up a tennis racket and hit the tennis ball with it. (Monkey see, monkey do.)
If you want to write—or even just improve your writing—pick up a good book and read it!
I always write better after reading a good book. Even if it is a book I’ve read many times in the past, I still enjoy reading it and it still has an effect. And this effect seems to last for a few days. Even my editors have picked up on changes in my writing style depending on whether or not I was reading a good book before I sat down to write a particular section.
In light of this, part of my regular routine is to read.
Now there is research to support my personal observation.
In particular, it has to be a book that draws the reader into it. The kind of book you can’t put down once you start reading it. What folks colloquially refer to as a “page-turner.” I guess the selection of the right book could be fairly subjective. What one reader might consider a good book might not be the same choice of another reader. So if you know a book you really like to read, that should be your choice.
Read a book, and your brain will be all limbered up and ready to crank on whatever task you are aiming for.