I just stumbled upon this essay in The Atlantic magazine, written by Richard Bausch. Excellent. Read it if you want to be a writer, or already are.
Mainly his stance is that the best way to learn to write is to read, read, read. That the many “how to” books on writing aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. Or even worth it.
A statement he makes that bothers me, is that 25% of the population hasn’t read a book in the past year. Yet so many claim they have a book in them that needs–begs–to be written. How can a person write if he or she doesn’t read a book? Reading only short stories doesn’t cut it. Just as only reading the How-to manuals.
When I first started submitting my writings to editors, I already had a few decades of reading thousands of books, almost all genres. I confess though, to give me what I call a beginners boost, I read Stephen King’s On Writing book, grabbed a few other “about writing” books from the library, and read a handful of writer’s magazines. But I used them as jumping- off points and that was over ten years ago. Now all I do is read any book I can get my hands on, write every day, and read some more.
And ultimately, that is the best way to become a writer.