How I Developed Taste

Well, here’s a story.

Once upon a time, I was a really young writer. I wrote silly little fairy tales, mysteries, and ended most with a forced moral to the story. But I loved it, and that’s what mattered.

I was also a voracious reader. I read everything my mom let me get my hands on, whenever I could get my hands on it. As a homeschool kid, that was often. In fact, there were plenty of times where I hid a book in my lap while “doing my schoolwork.” If only I’d thought through my double tasking and realized that I could spend a lot more time reading if I’d just dedicated myself to school first! But, I believe everything happens for a reason.

My mom caught at this act a few times, and she also noticed my increasing dissatisfaction with my life as I read more adventure books. She grounded me from reading several times, but I never seemed to learn, so she changed her strategy. The last time she grounded me, it was a bit more complex. If I wanted to read a fiction book, I had to read 3 biographies and 1 nonfiction book first. Then I could read a fiction book and the cycle started over. In hindsight, it was smart, as it forced me to see reality as the adventure it is… and also broadened my literary palate. Now, I was binge-reading stories about real people and real problems. I was reading how-to books on gardening and reading the history of Shakespearean theatre. I was reading about writing, which led me to read blogs about writing, which led me to write more, myself… eventually. I started writing nonfiction as well as fiction and, in my senior year of high school, I wrote my first novel. And I’m still pretty proud of it.

Do I love everything I read? No. Do I learn from everything I read?100%

My broad reading list has given me so much knowledge and perspective, and it has helped me shape my worldview and be able to infuse it into my writing.

Will these same steps work for everyone? No, probably not. And just because you don’t read broadly doesn’t mean you have poor taste. But it certainly won’t hurt you, or your writing!

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