I love to read—as an author and a fan. I devour biographies, history, humor, classics, mysteries, crime fiction, and military history. I confess to not reading much science fiction, poetry or horror, though I did enjoy one of Stephen King’s most recent novels. Although she did not begin writing until middle age, the well-known author PD James gives aspiring writers good advice. “To write well, I advise people to read widely. See how people who are successful and good get their results, but don't copy them.” She’s right. Even the towering artists of the Renaissance often learned at the knee of a master. The long studio hours spent watching how an accomplished sculptor or painter handled their medium paid off in the end. Entire schools grew up around famous artistsimitating a certain style. Eventually, the mature student became a master in his own right and spawned his own school of apprentices. Writing is no different than other creative arts. As a writer, you can admire a certain author’s style but ultimately you have to find your own voice. Learn from the classics and from popular literature but always strive to develop your own style in the genre most suited to you. A final word from PD James also encourages authors-in-training, “But you must write and try and improve your writing all the time.” Remember her sage advice.

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