?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Should writers be readers too?





Like most folks, writers lead busy lives. Most of us have other commitments (work, family etc.) which eat into our potential writing time. Sooner or later, we decide to cut back on some of our non-essential activities, like watching TV, feeding the children, going to the movies etc. in order to can spend more hours slaving away over the hot keyboard, working on our latest, shiny WiP.

Okay, maybe we don’t cut back on all those things (I for one will never give up watching the telly), but before we started writing, we all filled our days with something. If we want to satisfy our writerly passion, it’s only logical that something has to go.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to free up some time is to give up reading. After all, a single book can take up many hours, which would be better spent pursuing out dream of seeing our own work in print. Or would it?

Stephen King certainly doesn’t think so.

Stephen_King 
‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t
have the time (or the tools) to write’

I think he makes a valid, if somewhat blunt, argument. We can learn an awful lot from folks who made it further along the publishing chain – especially those folks who are newly published by the big houses (assuming they aren’t related to the owner). Doesn’t it make sense to study successful newcomers? By trying to figure out what they did right, we can perhaps apply something extra to our own work, perhaps improving our own chances of acceptance.

I don’t think we should limit our reading to our chosen genre either, though it makes sense to read those books too.

Speaking for myself, I find I approach reading differently since I caught the writing bug. It’s still fun, of course, but now I find myself stopping to take notes as I go: ‘Great plot twist? Check to see how he/she planted the seeds for it earlier in the book’; ‘I really like this character. Why?’; ‘I skipped over this part. What put me off?’ etc.

I’m not convinced writers have to read in order to be successful, but I’m pretty sure by studying what works/doesn’t work in books written by newly-published authors (especially those in the big six), we can do our own writing no end of good.


How about you?

Do you think writers need to read?


Poll #1852372 Do you think writers need to read?

Stephen King says: ‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write’ What do you think?

Absotively! I agree 100%
39(79.6%)
I’m sure writers could succeed without reading other books, but they’re making things harder for themselves
6(12.2%)
Read, shmead. It can’t hurt, but if you don’t have time, focus on writing
1(2.0%)
Something else, which I’ll mention in the comments
3(6.1%)



Site Meter


Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
ideealisme
Jul. 7th, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
Personally I'm kinda fed up of the WRITERS MUST READ NAO exhortations all over the damn place. I've been writing like billyoh trying to get this draft out and the more intensely I write, the less I read because (a) it will contaminate my writing style (b) I will start comparing, which is a mug's game and (c) it takes away my emotional energy and focus.

I read plenty before I started, but the belief that one must read all the damn time is bullshit, IMO.
msstacy13
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
If you'll pardom my speaking to you,
yes, it's another of those "Neverfail Novena" things;
If you write every day, and read every day,
and avoid clichés like the plague,
and remember that passive construction is frowned upon,
You'll be a writer!
(no subject) - ideealisme - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - heleninwales - Jul. 7th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ideealisme - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 7th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ideealisme - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ideealisme - Jul. 7th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
eglantine_br
Jul. 7th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
The thing is-- writers usually want to read. It is not a chore. We all started as readers-- that is how we discovered we wanted to write.

But in the white-hot best of writing, when it is all going well, nobody wants to stop. There are times when we write more than we read, because when it goes well, writing is so fun!

That said-- I do read all the damn time. But I have pretty much given up tv.
jongibbs
Jul. 7th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
'There are times when we write more than we read, because when it goes well, writing is so fun!


Very true :)
(no subject) - mary_j_59 - Jul. 8th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) - Expand
msstacy13
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
You've probably noticed the most interesting conversations you've had
were with people who listened at least as much as they talked.
Mhm.

Although, yes, one must be selective as to what one reads,
and should not suppose that simply reading War and Peace,
even in a good translation,
will magically have one writing timeless masterpieces...
jongibbs
Jul. 7th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
'You've probably noticed the most interesting conversations you've had were with people who listened at least as much as they talked.'

Ha! My old gran would disagree, though these days she has to do so via Ouija board (or straightforward haunting).
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jul. 7th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
starry_diadem
Jul. 7th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
I read all the time, but I'm far more selective now about it. I'm with eglantine_br - it was reading that made me want to try to write. I just prioritise now. If it's a choice between reading or writing, I'll plump for the latter now.


Edited at 2012-07-07 03:19 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Jul. 7th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
'I read all the time, but I'm far more selective now... '

I know what you mean, Anna. I read a lot more middle grade and YA than before.
bogwitch64
Jul. 7th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Not reading, for me, is as impossible as not writing.
jongibbs
Jul. 7th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Me too, though goodness knows, there are plenty who want me stop :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jul. 7th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC)
Especially Spider solitaire and facebook :(
(no subject) - martyn44 - Jul. 7th, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 8th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
mutive
Jul. 7th, 2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
I'm honestly puzzled as to why someone would want to write if they didn't like to read.

The only reason I write is that I wish to emulate the writers I know and love, to create worlds equally rich and diverse, characters who feel like friends, plots that keep me turning pages long after I should be asleep. If I didn't read, why would I want to do that?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - dferguson - Jul. 8th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Jul. 8th, 2012 02:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 8th, 2012 11:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blood_of_winter - Jul. 8th, 2012 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 8th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Jul. 8th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
martyn44
Jul. 7th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
Writing appears to be the only creative artform that can be practised without paying attention to what other creators in the medium are doing (according to some) Observation tends to suggest that the greatest creators are obsessive about others' work - even if only to dismiss it (or, more likely, steal the good bits)

Read. Just stop reading Facebook/Twitter/Livejournal EXCEPT in moderation.

Do as I say, not as I do.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
I guess it all comes down to old 'Whatever works best for you' thing, but I certainly find it helpful to read other folks's work.

Thanks for the input, Martyn :)
eneit
Jul. 7th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
Stephanie Meyer comes to mind. She's managed to be wildly successful and she's never bothered to read all the lore/history behind why certain legends came to be.

It's not how I write, or would want to, but it's certainly worked for her at this point. It will be interesting to see how she develops as a writer from here.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
Even if you read the lore/history, there's usually plenty different (and conflicting) opinions. If I were Stephanie, I'd focus on the fun :)
(no subject) - eneit - Jul. 8th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paulwoodlin - Jul. 8th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
darkspires
Jul. 7th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
It is kinda useful to read out of genre. Instead of looking at the story in depth, things like the setting and the characters tend to stand out more. Also the plot. How was that sense of threat, or hatred achieved? What made that comment so funny and how much of a set up went into it? Because one isn't wildly focussing on one's own genre, it helps to see the big picture.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC)
I agree :)
ex_naomi_ja
Jul. 8th, 2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
Personally I don't see why this is even up for debate. Yes, writers should read. I don't see why they wouldn't.
jongibbs
Jul. 8th, 2012 12:03 pm (UTC)
I know a decent number who don't (or at least, haven't lately).
(no subject) - dagonista - Jul. 8th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jul. 8th, 2012 12:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
paulwoodlin
Jul. 8th, 2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
You don't have to read a lot to write or even be published, but reading is the first step to writing well. The books I reread have always been by very literate book lovers, at least according to their blogs and biographies.
jongibbs
Jul. 9th, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
They can certainly teach us a lot :)
jennygordon
Jul. 11th, 2012 07:42 am (UTC)
Like you and, I suspect, most writers, I read with my writerly brain switched to the 'on' position. and honestly? While it's obviously immensely useful, and part of my writerly education, it can be quite annoying sometimes. I do wonder what it must be like to read a book without noticing and analysing. I'm sure I did once upon a time ...
jongibbs
Jul. 11th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
Lol, especially the good bits. I find myself thinking 'How can use this technique in my own work?' :)
angeladegroot
Jul. 13th, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
ANd I'm sure I've mentioned this before: I LOVE S.K.
jongibbs
Jul. 13th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Lol :)
doggiedynasty
Jul. 14th, 2012 04:35 am (UTC)
Reading and writing...

It's either low confidence or just not being in school for a while, but I often feel that the key to remembering the structure of literature is to read.

I often kick myself a lot over my writing and my memory in grammar rules, thinking that they're terrible. So I end up believing that it's a consequence from not reading. When I read a book, I think, "Why can't I emulate the same thing?"

If I close the book, it's like I completely forgotten what I've seen.
jongibbs
Jul. 14th, 2012 09:08 am (UTC)
I find I read differently now. I often stop to make little notes eg: 'Great dialogue, pge 43' or 'Clever sensory description' etc.

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

Tags

Latest Month

October 2017
S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Paulina Bozek