One question frequently comes up in interviews.
What advice do you have for beginning writers?
I always say the same thing. It's two-fold.
Read, read, read.
And--you guessed it--
Write, write, write.
I confess I go a little overboard with reading. I carry at least one book in my purse at all times--two, if I'm nearing the end of the book. If I find myself out without a book--gasp!--I buy one. It doesn't matter that I have 20 unread books at home. I have to read.
But if you want to write, you must first be a reader. Read specifically in the genre that interests you (magazines? memoirs? horror? chik lit?). Read widely. Read bestsellers (what makes them so appealling?), new authors, and old favorites. Read classics. Read anything--but read.
Writing is equally important. Vickie Baker, my earliest writing partner, said that she told people she was going to write for six months before she ever put words on paper. The practice of writing consistently--even if only for five minutes a day--will improve your skills more than five hours altogether once every few weeks. The more we write, the more we grow in what we want to say and how to say it.
That's my challenge for this week. Read and write.