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Studio Feature: Karen Harrington

Jul 29, 2013

Tracking Your Favorite Books; Karen Harrington's BTS content on The Studio“Before you become a writer, you must first be a reader,” author Karen Harrington says. “Reading books actually teaches you more about writing than any writing class.”

Karen grew up loving to read and wrote her first story in fifth grade. Then, in sixth grade, she met a published author—her English teacher! “It might sound funny, but it didn’t occur to me that I could be a writer until I met one in person,” she says. “As a child, I thought of writers and artists as mysterious, magical creators and not people who wore khakis and ate in the lunchroom.” But Mr. G. Clifton Wisler was real and loved books, just like Karen did. “He is the inspiration for the English teacher in my novel, Sure Signs of Crazy. A passionate teacher is a gift!”

To help you become a better reader, Karen offers steps to creating a reading log so you can collect ideas and analyze writing techniques. “It’s been said that you really know what you think only after you’ve written it down,” she explains. “Keeping a reading log will help you create your own personal writing manual.” What Karen hopes is that you will discover the books that make you begin writing your own stories.

Karen also shares ways to become a professional observer. “Writers are called to notice and put words to those things everyone sees, but few can describe,” she says. “So while everyone is looking down at their phones, why not be that one person who observes the way a sneaker sounds on a school hallway; what the wind smells like just after it rains; the look on the girl’s face after her book bag spilled out on the sidewalk. Being an observer is a wonderful and useful skill to cultivate, no matter what dream you pursue.”

Girl Scouts on the Storytelling Journey who are coming up with activities that involve writing or performing stories might want to check out Karen’s reading log activity, her input about observations, and what it takes to get a story started (hint: find out what B-I-C means!) on The Studio.