THE BEST ADVICE I EVER GOT FROM NICHOLAS SPARKS

In 2012, I was working at NBC on an awesome show with amazing people. As a segment producer, I worked with various celebrities. One day, my assignment was to produce an interview with author, Nicholas Sparks. (For those of you who live under a rock let me clarify: The Notebook. ‘nuff said.)

As we sat in the Green Room preparing for his appearance, we chatted about his home, his family and his books (including one in particular that had an ending I told him I will never forgive him for!) He laughed and also got a kick out of the fact my two nephews were named after a character in one his novels– Landon Carter, A Walk To Remember.

I had just started writing, and was desperate to pry this man for his knowledge. I mean, he found success in a time when Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space didn’t exist.

I thought: This guy has done it. He knows the secret to success! Perhaps, he has renowned insights he’ll divest to me and only me! But I couldn’t because: A) I was at work and that would have been completely unprofessional and B) Who the hell am I?

So, while I was prepping him for his interview, I slipped in a question:

“What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book?”

His answer:

“Read.”

Read? Seriously, Sparks, that’s all you have to give me?

I was let down. Disappointed. I felt like Ralphie asking Santa for a BB Gun and being told, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

But then he continued. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here), if you want to be a great writer you have to be a great reader. Most importantly: read everything. Read all genres and when you decide on the one that best fits you, read all different kinds of authors. This will help you learn your craft.

So I started reading….alot. While it was a completely enjoyable experience for me, I soon found myself learning in a way I hadn’t expected.

My brain was paying attention to the mechanics of the story. Certain POVs were becoming more appealing and tones were resonating like never before. I was connecting with certain characters and noticing plot lines being woven through the story like a delicate, well-placed thread.  I learned what I liked and disliked about books. I was inspired by some and turned off by others.

According to my kindle, I have read 276 books since that day. I am a water cooler reader — if you’re talking about it, I’ll read it.

Reading didn’t necessarily make me a Hemmingway-esque writer (as you can tell by this blog post ; ) I, like many, will forever be learning, getting better, and perfecting my craft.

But, I’m learning, and that’s the key.

Apparently, I’m not the only one he gave this little nugget of knowledge to (see, I was right – who the hell am I!). I found this article on his site for those of you who’d like to read on:

http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/learn-the-craft/

So, Thank You Nicholas Sparks and Happy Reading Everyone!

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2 Comments

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  1. A wonderful post! I adore Nicholas Sparks. I’ve heard this advice so many times. . . yet we don’t always take the time to appreciate it. It reminds me of a quote from Faulkner that I love: “Read, 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! You’ll absorb it.Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” Sometimes as writers we are so apt to just put pen to paper. We forget that reading isn’t wasting our writing time . . .it is part of developing ourselves as writers. I remind myself of this when I feel guilty for taking time to read a book 🙂 Great post! I am jealous that you got to work with Nicholas Sparks!

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    • I couldn’t agree more! It is part of developing ourselves as writers. I love to re-read books. The first time is for pleasure, the second is for depth. I often find myself so excited to see what happens next that I fly through a novel. On the re-read, I go further into the story and that is when I learn. One thing I can not re-read is my own manuscript! Every time I do I tweak and then risk leaving behind a mistake (which I have done!). I have to hold my hands in the air and recite, “Step away from the book!” and place myself under book arrest. Glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll be following you!

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