The prevalent, common advice these days seems to go along these lines: Just write. No matter what, they say, just keep writing. This may be a heretical departure from common knowledge, but I don’t quite buy the proposition that the best way to become a better writer is to write more. The best way to become a better writer is to learn more.
So, aspiring writer, I propose that the quality and meaningfulness of what you and I do correlates with our willingness to consume, ponder, critique, and contemplate the thoughts of others. We are not little blobs floating in some sterile vacuum, and neither are we sitting at a typewriter in a whitewashed isolation cell. We only nurture our capacity to say something constructive about the world if we let the world in. So let’s invite history, the classics, and the canons of literature to demolish our pet illusion that we are embodiments of some self-contained genius.
(This post is an extract from my interview on Wired Writer’s Guild, from March 11, 2014)