Reading for Writers

Cute Cat Picture.  Cats can't read.
There are two things that budding writers hear all the time: (1) Write what you know;* and (2) You have to do a lot of reading.  To most of us, reading is enjoyable.  There are, however, ways to make reading even more fun than it already is.  Here are some suggestions.

1.    Start a drinking game:  one swallow of beer for every cliché you come across.  It is considered cheating if you are unsure if a phrase or sentence is a cliché or not and you take a swallow, anyway, without looking it up.  You have to raise your glass or the bottle/can of beer and shout, “Shame!” before you take a sip.
2.       Make a list of every cliché that causes you to take a sip of beer.  When your list is long enough, write a short story or a novella, incorporating every one of those clichés.  See if you can get it published – under a pseudonym, of course.  You don’t want to be blamed for that one.
3.       Put 50 cents into a jar every time you read the latest bestselling novel before you start reading the work of your unknown author friends.  When the jar is full, use the funds to throw a party.
4.       Get up and do a victory dance whenever you come across something that you KNOW you could have written better.
5.       Count the number of old “New Yorker” magazines on your bookshelves in which you have been reading nothing but “Shouts and Murmurs,” and the cartoons, with the intention of reading the Fiction sections someday.
6.       Challenge yourself to read a book that has been turned into a popular movie without automatically picturing the stars of the movie in their respective parts. 
7.       Read a book that has been turned into a movie that you have seen, and eat a cookie every time you want to say, “The movie was better” or “That wasn’t in the movie.”
8.       Go around talking like one of the characters in a book you are reading and watch the looks that people give you.  Give yourself extra points if people step away from you.
9.       Go through all the books in your house.  Classify them into (A) Real Literature - Boring, (B) Real Literature – Fun, (C) Trashy Airplane Reading, and (D) Toss.  Donate the “Toss” books to your local thrift shop or church flea market.  Marvel at how neat your bookcases look and how much space you now have on them.  Buy new books to fill up the space (and maybe some nice knickknacks or real-looking silk plants, or whatever).
10.   Make up new lyrics to a familiar song using nothing but the names of famous authors.  Example:  To the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot,” sing “Stephen King Jane Austen Danielle Steele, Shakespeare Dan Brown George Eliot ….”
11.   Reward yourself with chocolate every time you are able to sit in a recliner chair and read anything without falling asleep.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please feel free to post them in the Comments section below.
Writer Reading

*This is either good advice or a crock of shit, depending on the situation.

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