Zinsser says, “If anyone asked me how I learned to write, I’d say I learned by reading the men and women who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and trying to figure out how they did it.”
Obvious but good advice. I would also add that ones ability to write increases with consumption of actual books rather than blogs. I am learning to turn off that thing in my brain that says I need to speed-read everything that comes across my plate. When it comes to productive reading which is meant to shape, change, convict and conform it has been better for me to read and digest before moving on. Also, all those stories that we hear about our theological heroes (both ancient and contemporary) and “how many books they read” everyday or every week are not helping anyone. Should the measure of a man really be how many ideas he has read or how he has been shaped by a few of those ideas? It seems that the latter of the two usually have more to say and if they write, their books seem to have a more lasting value.
And another thing, I love to peruse second-hand book stores. You may have noticed like I have that many of the same old books appear in these stores (I’m thinking of their theology/religion sections). It’s as if there were some books that were meant to only be sold at dusty little stores in downtown areas. Have you ever wondered why this is the case? My theory is that folks want to get rid of bad books and tend to hold on to works that have made a lasting contribution. This is why finding good books in these stores can be quite a chore yet rubbish is plentiful. It also should be a warning to every would be writer to try and write something that won’t be relegated to the dusty shelves of the Booklegger in Huntsville, AL or Books on Brand in Glendale, CA.