Reading is to Writing as Frosting is to Pop Tarts

A friend of mine wrote a book recently, and self-published it.  I talk about her sometimes, because even though she is my friend, a lot of her writing-related choices baffle me.  For example, one of her beliefs is:

I can write a fabulous book without reading anything.

This paraphrased comment is usually followed by some sort of exasperated sigh about how writing just “isn’t what it used to be” or “the characters are shallow and unrelatable” or some other nonsense that makes her sound pretty snobby.  Everything I have ever read screams that you need to ready like crazy in the genre you’re writing in.  Not to mention if you’re writing in that genre, you probably don’t hate it, and you might want to read it anyway.

Honestly, her book isn’t terrible.  My judgment of it calls her a great storyteller, but she needs to hone her craft a bit.  So this is where my metaphor comes in.  I think that reading is to writing as frosting is to pop tarts.  A pop tart can be tasty and satisfying without frosting, but the frosting makes it delicious.  Similarly, it is possible to write a good book when you prefer not to read in the genre, but it will probably not be a successful book, and it will not be a great book.

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