Saturday, April 20, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Reading as a Writer

If you're a writer, odds are that you're a reader too. It's probably your love for words and stories that inspired you to write in the first place. 

Needless to say, reading is important to writers. 

Once you start writing seriously, though, you might find yourself struggling to find time to read. I know I did. Still do. But it is important to keep reading. Whatever you can manage. 

Firstly, because reading is a good way to rest. And seriously, you'll need some. 

Secondly, the words you read or something about a plot or character can get you thinking. And those thoughts turn into ideas. Actually, this can happen with t.v. and computer games too, but don't go spending too much time there. Because I've discovered that looking for inspiration never works. You have to wait for it. 

Thirdly, whether you're trying to learn from writing or not, you're going to absorb a lot of information just by reading. That alone is worth its weight in gold.

So whenever you're blocked or need to rest your story before starting edits, read. 

Read a lot. 

Because if you're anything like me, you're going to miss it like an amputated arm while editing. You see, I can't read books at all during edits. Unless I'm critting them. 

It might be strange, but I can compare my issues to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. That bit where Simza asks him what he sees. His answer: Everything. That's what it's like for me. I can see every tiny little thing the author did. Sometimes down to which scenes were put in later to smooth something over. 

You might be the lucky owner of an editing eye that closes when you tell it to. But if you don't, read as much as you can, when you can. 

You'll thank yourself later. 

Anyone else have issues with leaving editing mode? Even when reading other people's books? 


  1. I try to balance my time to do everything, but I never stop reading. I read as a reader and as a writer. In other words, I always try to learn from other writers. I don't think of editing their work, but I learn from their unique perspective. Reading is always a learning experience. Always. Great post.

  2. I guess I can turn it off and skim over small mistakes the author made. If they are big though, then it does jar me out of the story.

  3. I can turn it off and just enjoy the story, and sometimes tune it down. Unless the mistake is such that breaks or challenge my logic.

  4. I've never thought of it in that way, When I see someone else's poem I read it, we all have a different approach I suppose.


    Enjoy your week-end.

  5. I belong to an online writers group so I'm used to critiquing via email. Everytime I read a e-book I try to make comments. It is impossible to turn the editor off.

    Since I don't have formal educate as a writer (unless you count papers I wrote getting my MBA!), I've used reading as a teacher. Couldn't agree with you more on the important of reading and the fact that I don't read as much as I used to. There are only so many hours in the day.

  6. This has started to happen to me now. Even tv shows. It's like I'm noticing the tiniest details!

    I'm loving these daily lessons on writing. Sorry couldn't comment earlier. :)

  7. Oh Misha, Such great advice and admonitions in all your posts. I have found that I am reading more, more blogs than books, and the books are more non-fiction, but the reading is so important. Appreciate all your helpful tips. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

  8. I love reading. And definitely agree that helps writers diversify.

  9. For a long time I struggled with reading as I wrote. 1) I didn't want anything I read to unduly influence my own writing. 2) I couldn't turn off my damn inner editor and just ripped everything I read to shreds.

    But, I've found a happy medium and while my inner editor still pipes up from time to time...I enjoy taking reading breaks. They're important for my sanity as a writer. Whenever I get too harsh on my own writing I pick up a book and see that all the 'rules' I'm screaming at myself for breaking have already been broken by so many others.

  10. When my inner editor turns off when I read a book, that's when I know it's a well written story. Now that I'm taking screen writing, I do the same with films. Just can't win some days

  11. I always read the same way, always have; it doesn't matter whom I'm reading or why. I read critically. I mean that in the denotation of the word, not the negatively spun connotation.

  12. I do have an editor's eye that bugs the heck out of me when I'm reading. I can take typos, but when it comes to grammar gone wrong, I have a hard time ignoring that. I don't remember having to deal with grammar errors in books before, so I wonder if it's because I edit so much more than I used to (crit group and my stuff) or if more is being published by people who don't know their grammar. Both?

  13. I do that too. I read, a lot, in kind of an "I must read to live" kind of way, and when I'm editing my own work, I see problems everywhere - in my stuff, in other people's stuff, in books, movies, etc. - I feel like the world's worst critic when I'm editing. It's painful. Sometimes I have to come back and re-read books when I'm not in editing mode, just so I can enjoy them more.

  14. It depends on how much I enjoy the book and whether I feel I HAVE to read it and then review it. Repetitive mistakes drive me nuts (I read three books last year that used reign consistently when they meant rein).
    My worst problem is when self-editing and I get into reading my story instead of editing it :)
    Happy A to Z-ing
    Jemima at Jemima's blog

  15. I can read and edit. I've also written fiction and non-fiction at the same time. I must be good at multi-tasking. (Although trying to keep up with the A to Z is kicking my butt.)

  16. I've had a huge problem with this since I belatedly resumed my lifelong dream of publication. I just can't turn off my editor mode, even in books I'm supposed to be reading for my classes. I've wondered why some of these books won awards or are so popular (coughthebookthiefcough), since I had such a hard time getting through them and was bugged by some many amateurish writing mistakes and shortcomings.

  17. I've noticed that I don't always read a story for the simple enjoyment and entertainment. I could do that before.
    But now, I start looking at other things... and I wondered if there was something wrong with ME
    It can be quite annoying...

    Writer In Transit

  18. I love reading and distract myself for hours! I 'm always finding annoying spelling mistakes in novels and newspapers. However the joy of reading makes up for everything.
    A great post Misha and I'm glad you enjoyed mine.

  19. You're right about finding time to read. When I'm writing or editing, I cannot do it, but in between phases I try to cram in as much as I can. :)

  20. I love reading and I sometimes read to help my writing and others times just for enjoyment. If I'm reading to help my writing it's usually the second time I'm reading a book and I turn on my editing eye.

  21. If I don't take time to read at least for a little bit every day, I get cranky. Just ask my husband. :)

    Happy A-Z!

  22. It seems writing has taken away my enjoyment in reading AND movie watching. :)


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