Love writing, hate reading

Nov. 6, 2017, 1:00 a.m.

I love to write — and I have over 10 years’ worth of journals at home to prove it. Writing is my therapy, my outlet, my default. But there’s always been a little something that’s gotten in the way of writing: reading.

My teachers always said that to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. But I’ve just never liked reading, even for fun. I have trouble reading for more than 20 minutes or sticking with a novel for more than 60 pages. The rare (and I mean rare) exception was the “Harry Potter” series, which I read over the summer after my freshman year of college. If I get really into a book, I can read it often, but those bursts are few and far in between.

My memory has been scarred by all the books I had to read for school, all the times my peers made smart comments in English class and I thought, Wait, did we read the same book?

Ironically, I was strongly considering being an English major. I’ve always wanted writing to be a part of my career, and I thought English was the best path for that. But the idea of reading countless books, poems, and short stories and discussing them with students who actually enjoy reading was unsettling to me.

Once I started looking for summer internships, I found that I was interested in marketing and communications; it allowed me to write in a non-academic context and connect with an audience through writing. I switched my major from English to Communication (even though English majors can definitely pursue marketing/communications as well), and I pursued marketing internships during the past two summers.

But one piece was missing: I still didn’t like to read. And if I couldn’t be a good reader, how could I be a good writer?

The answer came to me over the summer, when I did a content marketing internship at an analytics startup in Redwood City. I was still very new to marketing, and I knew nothing about analytics, so I built up my knowledge by reading as much as possible: the company’s previous blog posts, the blogs my boss recommended to me and any other articles about marketing or analytics that I could find. This research allowed me to understand the company’s mission and to write posts for their blog. It also got me excited about both new fields.

Now, I understand the mentality that to be a good writer, you need to be a good reader. Reading has been a powerful tool during my past two internships. But I’ve redefined what reading means for me.

First, reading isn’t limited to the types of books you read in English class, or even books in general. You can read marketing blogs, scientific papers, or even People magazine. Reading is about learning new information, and I’m definitely not going to judge you for wanting to learn about the Kardashians.

Which leads to my next point: Read what interests you. I enjoy learning about content marketing, so I was happy reading marketing blogs during my internship. If you’re not reading for a class, then don’t feel obligated to read something because it will make you “smarter.” Instead, stick with your gut, and think about what you like to do in your free time: How can that translate into reading? If you like to eat (trust me, I do too), try checking out a cookbook or a food blog. And if you get bored or frustrated — you don’t have to read it! It might take you a while to find something you enjoy reading, but trust me, the search is so worth it.


Contact Kristen Lee at klee23 ‘at’

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