Monday, February 22, 2010

Reading, ’Riting & ’Rithmetic

By Ali Cross

As a child in Canada, I often heard about “reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic. This was the focus of every child’s education: They called it the Three R’s of Learning.

For some reason the Three R’s have been dancing around my head a lot lately and it’s driving me crazy! I mean, why in the world would I be thinking about the Three R’s? So when in doubt, I write. And here I am.

But this is a writing blog, so now I have to figure out how I can relate the Three R’s with writing and you know? It’s not that hard.

The first “R” is reading. It might seem obvious, but many writers fail to give proper attention to the importance of reading in their career. It’s easy to see how reading could take a back seat. While reading someone else’s work, we can get distracted from our own words. It’s possible we can get discouraged, thinking someone else has done such a better job than we ever could. Or, we find it hard to find our own stories to write when we’re so caught up on the words of others.

But there’s a reason reading is the first “R” in education—reading is fundamental.

And, reading is research.

We can’t know our market and know our genre, if we aren’t reading. We must fill our minds with all the nuances of our genre so that when we write all the right words are there, telling the best story for success in the market. For instance, if you don’t read what’s hot, you might be happily writing a story about a sparkly vampire and the girl who loves him—never knowing that story’s already been told and sold.

’Riting. That one’s pretty obvious, right? I’m not a firm believer in writing every day, though I know I’m better off for it when I do. But certainly, the best way to become a better writer is to write, write and write. You must practice your art in order to learn, to improve, and ultimately, to succeed.

Now, ’rithmetic. You might wonder what math has to do with writing, but I’m here to tell ya, publishing is a numbers game. Let’s look at the different formulas:

Reading + Writing = Published

Submitting + (Reading x Writing) = Published

Query x Agents = Published

You see how this works. There are any number of possible formulas for writing success, but every single one of them boils down to this singular truth: Don’t give up. Read, Write, and then submit like crazy.

So now you have the Three R’s of your writing education. I hope you took good notes. Class dismissed.


Carolyn V. said...

So true!!!! Just keep on keepin' on. Thanks for the advice Ali!

L.T. Elliot said...

Yay! I finally passed a class! ;)

Seriously, great advice, Ali. Especially about the reading. =]