It’s been said a million times — it’s one of the main points of my books Steal Like An Artist and Show Your Work! — and yet, it still seems to be controversial or confusing to young people who are starting out: If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.

“You can’t be a good writer without being a devoted reader.”
J.K. Rowling

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut… If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
Stephen King

“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”
—Annie Proulx

“The ugly fact is books are made out of books.”
Cormac McCarthy

“Read with the mind-set of a carpenter looking at trees.”
Terry Pratchett

“Read, read, read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!”
—William Faulkner

“If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting.”
—Ray Bradbury

“When I’m reading, I’m looking for something to steal. Readers ask me all the time the traditional question ‘Where do you get your ideas from?” I reply: ‘We are all having ideas all the time. But I’m on the lookout for them. You’re not.’”
Philip Pullman

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A hacked street sign in LA, 2015

“Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
Nora Ephron

“I find it weird to meet writers who aren’t also big readers. Met one the other day at a bar and I looked at him queerly. He said he couldn’t find the time. This reminded me that readers are probably my people first, before writers. Writers are more likely to be dicks.”
Rosecrans Baldwin

“I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.”
Adam Phillips

“I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy reading.”
—William Giraldi

“If only you’d remember before you ever sit down to write that you’ve been a reader much longer than you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world [you] would most want to read…”
—J.D. Salinger, Seymour: An Introduction

“If you feel the urge to write, just lie down and read a book: it will pass.”
—Fran Lebowitz

Source: Austin Kleon

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