Embrace Your Inner Bookworm
Over on my Facebook group (more on this later, stick with me!), we've been chatting favourite books. The variety of genres and styles that have resonated and made an impact with my lovely group members is already really fascinating. We've had everything from children's Victoriana, to ahead-of-its-time dystopia, page-turner thrillers and uplifting memoirs with a touch of the spiritual.
I truly believe that reading widely and reading regularly is crucial to improving your writing. Make reading a chapter of something part of your daily routine. Block it in before bedtime if you can. It'll then serve the dual purpose of building your bookworm status and getting you off screen and helping you wind down before you go to sleep.
Try to change up your reading list, too. Of course, you'll have your favourite authors and your 'you might also like' recommendations on Amazon (we've all been there). But I'd urge you to be brave and plunge into uncharted waters every now and then as well. If your normal taste is historical fiction, try some space age sci-fi. If you love a family saga, get stuck into a grisly pot boiler. Branch out across fiction, non-fiction, biography, food writing. Let your inner bookworm roam free and read voraciously - magazines, blogs, cook books, the backs of cereal boxes... anything you come across!
You'll find characters you fall unexpectedly in love with; ideas that leave you feeling fizzy with inspiration and plots so compelling that before you know it it's 3am and you've read 350 pages in one sitting. You'll also get a sense of the writing styles that most appeal to you, what you like and what you don't, and (crucially) why you don't. Every bit of literature that you consume will leave its trace on you, whether you inhaled it or found it a total slog to finish. And every bit of literature will go to inform your writing style whenever you sit down to put pen to paper.
So, Tell Me More About This Facebook Group...
The Jackdaw's Nest | Unlock Your Inner Storyteller is a new free community for business owners in the wedding and creative industries to help put some of the joy back into writing, whether for business or for pleasure. There are regular imaginative prompts and fun challenges, Q&As with me and lots of tips and tailored trainings to help you embrace a love of language and get creative without fear. I launched the group last week, so it's still in the 'small but perfectly formed' stages. I'd love to have you come and join us.
OK. Back To The Books
To prove I practise what I preach, and to give you some ideas for the next time you're ready to update your library, take a look at some of the books on my current reading pile....
This Is Going To Hurt - Adam Kay
I confess that my true and deep and probably quite tragic Grey's Anatomy addiction first led me to pick this one up off the shelf. It's definitely not the sort of thing I'd normally go for, but it's turning into a 'roar through it at top speed' read.
It manages to be eye-opening, shocking and side splitting at the same time. Kay writes with just the right amount of acidity to his humour, and the potentially off-putting medical jargon is handled cleverly and with humour. I read well over three quarters of this in one sitting at the weekend, and can't wait to finish it.
The Little Breton Bistro - Nina George
I absolutely loved George's previous book - The Little Paris Bookshop. It had the sort of prose I adore: measured yet poetic. You get taken gently along for the ride with the plot, with few sudden twists and turns, but an overarching feeling of contentment.
I'm only a few pages in to this one, but it's definitely got potential to be just as immersive and beautiful. Plus there's the added bonus of some food writing when the action moves from Paris to Brittany. I love a bit of multi sensory description, so can't wait for that!
The Secret Lives of Colour -Kassia St Clair
This is a big book, and I can tell that it has the capacity to blow my mind! I'm dipping in and out every now and again, but I want to carve out some time to really get to grips with it.
It explores colours and where they come from, blending science and art and history into a snapshot of the whole of civilisation. No mean feat! I have a hunch it is going to be a little bit brilliant, and it's a perfect example of the fact that stories can be found anywhere.
Also, mega props to the author for managing to use the word 'Brobdingnagian' when talking about the colour beige.
So what about you? What's on your 'to read' pile? I'd love to hear about your favourite books and upcoming reads. Leave me a comment and let me know, and let's expand our collective libraries.