Today’s Readers are Tomorrow’s Writers

In Corey Latta’s C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing, he quotes Lewis on how his life as a reader influenced his life as a writer:

“I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the lilies. Also, of endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and most emphatically not…I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass…

C.S. Lewis, taken from Corey Latta’s C.S. Lewis and the Art of Writing

So you see, then, how closely the writer’s reading affects the writer’s writing. It’s plain to see that Lewis’ revolutionary works in the realm of High Fantasy were influenced by his reading of fairy tales, myths, and George Macdonald.

Why? Because Great Artists steal. That’s the name of the game: inspiration. Other peoples’ reading inspires us to write, even unconsciously so. After all, writing is an ancient practice; it’s been around as long as the written word has been around, and the art of telling a story goes farther still back from that. Writing today is the culmination of mankind’s ideas, hopes, and dreams over the last ten thousand years. All writers had to be avid readers; how else could they become great writers?

Sad to say, but the reading of novels has somewhat taken a few punches since the invention of the television 100 years ago. The written word was replaced by the screen, and movies took precedence over books. I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t readers out there, because there certainly are. But the audience has taken a hit over the ages.

Still, there are writers out there. And because there are writers, there are readers. To put it this way, I could say: “Not every reader becomes a writer, but every writer was once a reader.” Reading is a way of being around the writer, like having a peek into their mind. How can you be around writers so much and not have that rub off on you?

To speak for yourself, I am not the reader I once was. I still love to read, and every day, but my early childhood was mostly taken up by it. Sure, I listened to music, played video games, and watched movies, but reading books took up almost 100% of my free time. I can just remember that many of my friends at church were just plain weirded out. They just couldn’t explain my love for writing. TO be honest, I probably couldn’t tell you another reason other than “Because I like it.” I would forgo hours of social interaction for the chance to reread the Narnia series.

In doing so, it has made me a nerd. But that’s not the point: a love of reading inevitably results in a love of writing. If you’re a writer, it’s probably because you love, or used to love, books. I still love books, and read when I can. However, this takes me to my main point: If reading helps you write, why don’t you do it more?”

A sensible suggestion. Maybe you’re down in the dumps. Maybe you can’t think about what to write. Maybe you just don’t want to write. Well, I’ve got a solution to that: Read. The best cure for writer’s block there ever was is reading. It’s an infusion of creativity and soul that can rejuvenate you in ways you never thought possible.

However, I have one word of caution from Lewis’ mouth: “Avoid nearly all magazines.” That quote was found in a letter that Lewis penned to a young writer who asked him for advice. By “magazines”, he was referencing the cesspit of trashy writing that could be found in magazines those days. Eloquently said: it is very important to avoid bad literature for inspiration. Read only the good stuff.

Good luck, and happy writing!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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