Thursday, July 15, 2010

Writing and Reading

I’ve heard many people say over and over that to be a good writer, you have to be well read. Is it true?

For me, I love to read. What writer doesn’t? But I barely have enough time to write my own book, let alone read everyone else's. So when I started writing I banned myself from reading.

Why? It distracted me from my own book in a lot of ways. Their books were so good that I couldn’t put them down to read. I got discouraged because I felt that my book will never be as good. I even found myself accidentally writing characters/things/situations into my book because I’d read them elsewhere. *not good*

So I stayed away from other books.

Then, once I finished the first draft of my manuscript, and needed a break, I finally hit the bookshelves and read like mad. And you know what?

I think I was wrong.

I think it was a mistake to avoid books all together. I learned a lot by reading published works. I found new techniques, and interesting ways to craft my story. It’s been good for me to get a better understanding of my genre, and see what the readers are reading.

Sure . . . I still got distracted from my manuscript. I just need to sort out how to stay focused on my book, while reading others.

What do you guys think? Do you read a lot while writing your manuscript? How do you stay focused?


We live in a Zoo! said...

Hmmmmm, I don't stay focused, lol! I write when I am struck with inspiration. I really need to work on that. Though I've wondered if it would be better to not read when trying to write to avoid accidental plagiarism I simply can't do it. I love reading too much ;D

Laura Marcella said...

Yes!!! I can't go a day without reading. I write during the day and I read at night before bed. I've never had a problem focusing. Reading great stuff doesn't make me feel discouraged; it actually motivates and inspires me to write so some day I'm great, too. Remember, every author you read was once where you are now!

James Lewis said...

Because of time constraints, I too have slacked in the reading department. Although during times of creative drought, I would read, and found that every time I did, my creative juices would start flowing again.

Reading is crucial!

Tiffany said...

You know, I was just thinking about that yesterday. I teach my third graders to write by using the six traits of writing. The only way I know HOW to teach them to be better writers is to read to them. When I am teaching them about Sentence Fluency or Voice, I read books to them with good Sentence Fluency or Voice. Then I watch to see if they copy what they read in their own writing. When they do, I figure I have done my job well. Eventually they figure out how to transfer what they read into their own style of writing. I even find myself noticing things that writers do in their books and how it makes their books better. I imagine it would make me a better writer to be aware of those things.
I think reading is definitely a good thing.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm a bookaholic so I can't stay away from books that long, but it's definitely a balance between reading and writing.

Lois D. Brown said...

I find I get some of my best ideas for my own book while I'm reading something else. (And it's not the same stuff than what I'm reading.) I say read on. One author I met, Carol Williams,said she reads at least 2 books a week while she is writing. So I say read on. One problem is that you'll be more critical of a book than you used to be. BTW, I'm almost done with James' mss and then I'm on to yours. I'm so excited.

The Urban Cowboy said...

I'm not a writer, so I really don't think my two cents is worth a penny.

But if I were, I would try to come up with a schedule, one for reading and the other for writing. I would only deviate from it if I started suffering 'writers block'?

Write Chick said...

I'm a working mom, so I'm at work eight hours a day. When I get home, it is homework time and dinner time and give the kids some fun-mom time. I'm lucky to squeeze in anything extra. SO I just fit in what I can, when I can. I don't schedule reading or writing. However, I love both. I say "Don't stress about it." Do what you can, when you can. :-)

Rick said...

Thanks for visiting the blog and the comment Natasha, yeah perhaps chat roulette is best avoided unless you're feeling adventurous!

I tend to write scripts more than prose and i think you raise a tough debate! I have neglected my reading since doing the course but i do watch a lot more to make up for it! If i'm stuck on a script then going to the cinema etc often invigorates or kick-starts me again. But it's so hard not to imitate what you enjoy and to stay true to your style!

Kristina P. said...

I wish I could give you my point of view, but I know nothing about writing!

I think it makes sense not to read a ton of other books, but not avoid them all together.

Jo Schaffer said...

I have been reading like none other. 12 novels in 2 months.