Are Writers Readers?
Chances are high that you associate reading with writing. These two terms go hand-in-hand like milk and cookies, left and right, or birds and bees, and if you have participated in any language-based education, you will certainly be graded on both with neither one existing exclusive from the other. Indeed, one has to read their own writing to make sense of what they are saying, so it feels like a silly and redundant question to ask if writers are also readers.
That may be cheating a little bit, so let’s properly define who we are talking about when we describe a “reader” compared with a “writer”. Devout readers will actively look for new stories to explore and will often be found either with a book in their hand or on their terminal exploring the vast repository of books and writings online. When looking for new material from their favourite series, avid readers tend to seek out auxiliary texts that add more depth to these worlds, both from within and outside the story’s canon. Readers are information gatherers: they are the foremost experts on the subjects that draw their greatest interest, and are likely the people you will seek out when looking to find information on such subjects.
Writers on the other hand, are the story creators who are driven to develop their worlds for others to experience. They find the greatest joy in bringing new stories into the world, bringing life to characters and settings for a wide audience to experience and enjoy. Writers are overflowing with an abundance of ideas that need to come out on the page, and find their greatest satisfaction when others enjoy the stories they come up with. Pure writers are information distributors: they are the authority on the stories they tell, with the vast creativity and knowledge that is developed alongside their most beloved creations.
If one perceives readers and writers in this way, one can clearly see a dichotomy between the two. The extreme reader is the one that exclusively consumes new stories and knowledge, while the extreme writer is the one that exclusively produces the stories to be consumed. It is often the case that you will find a mixture of both, and in this way, one could view a person to be on a spectrum somewhere between being a hardcore reader and a hardcore writer.
When I was younger, I was most certainly on the extreme side of being a reader. I would sometimes read multiple books in a single day and would be very proud of this repeated accomplishment. Although I would occasionally read for knowledge, I would more often be reading to consume new fictional worlds and stories, thoroughly enjoying the way my favourite authors weaved their tales through their settings and characters. It would only be much later on that I would discover my love of writing as my repository of books in the category I enjoyed began to dry up. Money wasn’t something I could spend freely when I ran out of novels on my bookshelf, and rereading stories only went so far when you already knew how the stories went. As a result, my curiosity would move me towards writing as I began to develop my own stories to fill the void. It wouldn’t be long before I discovered the world of roleplay and the ability to develop stories in a group. This was in the middle of my transitionary period between being a reader and a writer, where my contributions were intermixed with others’ writings: multiple people and their creativities coming together to create one cohesive world. This is the best example in my experience to being as close to equal parts distribution and consumption as I can imagine.
If I were to consider my experience while imagining this sliding scale, I do believe that while it is possible to be an exclusive reader or an exclusive writer, you will be hard-pressed to find someone who actually fits this description. It is my opinion that the majority of younger people begin as a heavy reader, but very few are completely devoid of writing altogether in this state. Similarly, as a self-proclaimed writer devotes more and more of their time to their craft, very few will become so completely devoted to the point that they ignore reading entirely. Most people will find themselves to be on one side or the other, but will likely draw inspiration through their lesser medium.
For this reason, I believe that the answer to the proposed question is that the overwhelming majority of writers are readers in some fashion, and will often be better writers as a result of their reading. A well-balanced language enthusiast will be stronger because of their breadth, and it would certainly be my recommendation to dabble at minimum on the other side of your preference. Strong readers will benefit greatly from exploring their inner thoughts through writing, and strong writers will find themselves much more centered when exploring and reading the works of other authors. I personally consider myself to be both a writer and a reader, currently more heavily favoured towards the writing end of the spectrum, but I have a strong desire to read other authors’ works to broaden my understanding of my craft and to grow as an individual.
I believe it is wise to embrace all offerings of the English language and its craftsmen and women. To ignore the sheer variety that exists in the world is to do your writing a disservice, while ignoring your inner creativity is to do the vast repository of knowledge you have gained through reading a disservice. Of course, if you choose to be an exclusive reader or writer, that is your prerogative, but I would highly encourage you to explore.
After all, the language arts are exactly that: arts. Creativity and curiosity come naturally with the territory.Follow: