I know a lot of people who just spend their lives writing one book or story after another. Writing may not be their work or their lives, but it’s certainly their passion. They fill every spare moment with the clack of keys and the flow of words onto a computer screen.

Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, because that’s how stories are told! However, it’s not a GREAT thing either. Why is that?

We all know that to become a great writer, you have to be a great reader! The great Stephen King spends more time reading every day than he does writing. Most of the best writers in the world make it a priority to read as many books as they can, as that’s how they improve their own writing.

“So what you’re saying,” some of you may be wondering, “is that I’m writing too much? How is that possible?”

Writing, like anything else in the world, can be a bit addictive. You have a genius idea that you HAVE to get down on paper before you forget it, so you spend every spare moment hammering away at it. That is very important, and you should spend as much time writing as you can.

However, addictions become a problem when taken too far, as I very well know. During the second draft of In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent, I skipped meals, exercise, and even sleep to hurry up and finish the book. There was no pressure beyond what I placed on myself, but I wanted to finish this project because it was burning a hole in my skull.

Looking back, I realize that the book COULD have been better had I:

1)      Taken more time on it

2)      Read more while writing it

Had I taken more time to write the book, I probably would have caught the few errors and typos that have been pointed out. Had I taken more time to read, I might have found that my style of writing (passive writing was my biggest flaw) could have been done better–or just been changed altogether.

For your own sake and for the sake of your work in progress, don’t get addicted! Spend at least an hour a day reading or doing something relaxing that isn’t writing.

Here’s what I’d recommend:

  • Read
  • Watch TV and movies
  • Read comics
  • Play video games

Reading isn’t the only thing that can make your writing better. Video games, TV, movies, and comics give you a fresh perspective on people, and often give you new ideas that you couldn’t come up with just by reading. Don’t spend too much time on these things, though, as you want to focus on reading GOOD books to improve your writing.

How you organize your life and your work time is up to you, but if you want to write WELL, you need to spend time reading every day!