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Can you write a novel if you haven’t read many?

Do you love to write even though you haven’t read many novels? I do. Is that possible?

I hear all the time that if you don’t love to read than there is no way you can love to write or be a writer. I guess time will tell on that one but I am just going to come right out in say it: I don’t LOVE to read.

Or at least that is what I would tell myself. That is changing.

I love to tell stories. I grew up on movies. I can quote all of my favorite movies and have seen so many of them I would feel very confident in a game of movie trivia. I can name directors, actors, screenwriters and I was also the go to person for my sister to call when she worked at a local video store. The reason she would call me was simple. A customer would come in, not know the name of a movie, and would only describe the plot, the actor, or even a scene. She would call me, confidence in her voice as she knew I would be able to guess right away what it was. “You’re awesome. I knew you would know it.”

Books on the other hand? Not so much.

I read the occasional book when I was growing up. Holes, Goosebumps books, sports non fiction books, just anything that was short and I knew I could get the maximum points on an A.R. test. I always preferred to spend my free time in high school playing basketball, watching movies, or watching tv. Or playing video games. The only reading I would do, and it was quite a bit, was for articles about movies, movie reviews, and screenplays. I would even read how to articles and stories and listen to a few audio books but I even then put those to the side to listen to music instead. I have a very active imagination and mind and I am always wanting to do multiple things at once. Only when I would watch a film would I be totally invested in that and be consumed by it. Sometimes, even with that, I would have a movie or story idea pop in my head that I wanted to write and make. Lately I have read or listened to quite a few entrepreneur books but when it comes to fiction, the thing I want to write, I haven’t read many novels at all.

When I am writing I feel at peace and my fingers can’t move fast enough. I love telling stories, creating characters, and having that creative outlet. I just couldn’t, actually to be more accurate, wouldn’t read. It’s not because I don’t love the ideas, the characters, the creativity of the books, it’s because I allowed myself to believe that I couldn’t focus and sit still long enough to read through some chapters. That my mind would wander on that story idea, or that movie scene, or anything where I wasn’t totally invested into those pages I was reading.

Once I started to think about it, that mindset was the same I would take with my writing, or with any creative endeavor I tried. I am a good reader, and read every single day but when it came to opening up an actual novel I got intimidated. Then I remembered I read all the time. Any time I try to learn something I will read article after article after article. I just wasn’t reading novels. Not because I didn’t love the stories being told or because I didn’t want to but because I lacked the discipline.

The reason I am sharing this is actual quite simple and even a little embarrassing. I mean what kind of aspiring creative who wants to write screenplays and books doesn’t read a ton of novels? How could you possibly write a novel if you haven’t read many of them?

That is why I am sharing this with you. Because that is me and I am okay with it.

I decided to start reading novels. In fact, right now, the first novel I am reading is ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus. I am loving the book so far by the way. I love stories that are set in high school and am in the process of writing something in that setting with characters who are in high school. So I looked at it as almost inspiration and research. I can’t tell you how many book stores I have been in, which I absolutely love going to by the way, and would love looking at the covers and getting excited about the story that is contained within those pages. I would usually leave with nothing but a film magazine or a gift for someone. Why is this? Why do I love these books, these stories, these creative minds who are doing exactly what it is I want to do, and I haven’t even experienced a ton of these novels?

I am not even sure if I know the answer other than that I love stories. I love to tell them. I love to write them. I love to create them. No matter the field whether it be in a movie, tv show, or a book, or even a joke. I love to be a storyteller and my imagination is full of these ideas and stories. The funny thing is, is that I am loving reading these books. I will have some coffee and sit in read a few chapters. I am loving the writing process, well the outlines aren’t as fun, but I love how I feel when I am typing away at the computer and bringing these stories and characters to life. So maybe you do have to read a lot to write a book. I’m not sure, if that’s the case I am way behind on reading enough to actually write a good book. Time will tell.

But what I do now is this. Each of us has our own story, our own voice, our own process. I feel I am constantly learning, trying to become a better writer, and right now trying to become a more disciplined reader. Just like with writing, once you start on that first page it becomes easier. The story comes to life and you have a great time and you wonder why it took you so long to start reading novels. Or writing that novel. Or starting that screenplay. Just start and see what happens. I did, and now I am on a journey to start reading as many novels as I can. I am going to start with one a week and see how I do. I started ONE OF US IS LYING last week so I am already going at a slower pace than normal because I still fall into the old habits of “I will just see what’s on tv, instead.” or “Do I really feel like reading right now?”. Those same habits that has me sitting here at 29 years old and I can count on two hands how many novels I’ve read. I even become a little nervous about sharing that since I am in the process of writing the 3rd draft of my screenplay for a tv pilot. I am also in the outlining phase of writing a novel. Can it be done? Will I be not taken seriously because I haven’t read a lot of novels? Will people I respect and admire brush me off and not take my book recommendations or writing seriously because of this? I am not sure. These are the things that go through my head. I want to build a community of people who are creatives and who are writers who maybe have the same type of background or thoughts. I want to talk to people about stories and about writing and work as hard as I can to have these stories come to life, but will they accept me since I haven’t read a lot? Should I care?

Well, I am reading. I am going to have opinions on the book and on the writing and even though I haven’t read a ton of novels. Even though I haven’t published a book or sold a screenplay, I am going to continue writing. Maybe it’s bad writing, maybe it’s good, but I love to tell stories and I can only get better from here. So no matter if you’re 29 or 59 don’t be ashamed of what you haven’t done yet. Maybe you gave up on learning guitar (I have but still want to learn), maybe you gave up on being a poet, or an actor. Maybe you want to be those things but you’ve never read a lot of poetry, you haven’t acted a day in your life, and you have never studied a guitar riff and how to do one yourself and when you listen to music you just let it take over your mind and you get lost in it. That’s fine. We can all do these things and we can all try. No matter the experience level and no matter what people tell you that is giving you even more reason not to start in the first place. Let’s keep learning, let’s keep growing, and let’s keep writing. In the paragraphs above I mentioned if I should care what people thought about me trying to write a book when I am just now starting to read novels. The answer to that question is no. I am constantly trying to become more self aware of who I am and what I can do. I strongly believe I can do this and it doesn’t matter how many novels I have read. to a lot of people reading that may laugh at this and say it does. That is totally fine. We all have our process and our journey and this is mine. Whatever yours is, just now I support you and want to see you succeed. I want you to throw away these excuses and worries that I have talked about here in this blog. Just be yourself, 100% real and watch what happens. I am doing that now. This blog was hard to write, but I hope if you are like me, and you want to start and build a community of people who want to write and tell stories than it helps you. I am halfway through my first novel of 2018 and I plan on reading a lot more as the year goes on. I hope to meet authors and tell them how much I admire them even if I haven’t read all of their books. I hope to people who have read way more than me and get recommendations from them on what to read next. I am constantly learning from all of you. So there it is world, I am 29 years old and I haven’t read hardly any novels in my life. I am in the process of writing a screenplay, developing ideas for a movie, and am laser focused on writing this novel. Will you join me?

Follow me on Instagram so you can see what I am reading, talk about books, give me book recommendations, and follow along on my journey to write and publish a book.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thejustinburden/