Stop Reading!

February 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm 13 comments

Well, don’t stop reading, this, just reading in general if you happen to be writing a book.  This advice from an article in The Writer.  Before I go any farther, know that I don’t get paid to promote anything.  There will be no kickbacks for Kat mentioning any book, magazine, movie, shampoo or lint remover in my blog.  Anyway…

The author alleges that reading a published piece while trying to write one interferes with a writer’s voice, can lead to writer’s block and at the very least, inhibit their style.  I chair a large writers group and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve admonished them that “writer’s read”.  I still believe the best writers are readers, but this article made a lot of sense.  How many times have you been half way through a best seller and thought “man, I wish I would have written that”?  Worse, how many times have you been curled up with a book and thought “what’s the use,  I can never top this”?  Have you ever blown out a weekend reading someone else’s book when you should have been writing yours? 

Personally, I’ve done all of these things at one time or another, but I also find spending a few hours with a really good book inspiring and motivational.  Perhaps the difference for me is that I don’t read in the genre I write for.  The article went on to allege that if a writer’s supply of reading material disappears, they will create the stories they seek themselves. 

Interesting theory, what do you think?

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized, writing. Tags: .

Jaded Beyond Redemption – Not Things That Make Ya Go – Ugh

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. damyantig  |  February 17, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Reading something in another genre seems like a good idea.

    I do stop reading fiction books on the same subject that I am doing creative writing in.

    http://amloki.blogspot.com
    http://damyantiwrites.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • 2. hammer  |  February 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Reading inspires me. Different authors creep in and talk to my imagination from time to time. But that’s just me.

    Reply
  • 3. QuillDancer  |  February 17, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I think I quit even trying to write after I thought, “I can never compete with this!” one too many times.

    Reply
  • 4. rel  |  February 17, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Kat.
    Let me give this some thoght…………………………

    There. No, for me reading is the stimulus to write. I think things like: yes, I can do that, or so that’s how that’s done. My perspective on pov has changed with broadened readings of heretofore unread genres.

    In the end though I believe what S. King and E. Gilbert have said: to be a writer, write!
    rel

    Reply
  • 5. Icey  |  February 17, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I think reading while writing also helps you improve your own plots. Like maybe you are stuck on your plot and you read a book – or a see a movie for the matter – and suddenly the picture widens because you are flashed with more ideas, more ways to resolve conflicts,…

    However , I do have to agree with you: a writer must be a good reader.

    Reply
  • 6. katcampbell  |  February 17, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    damyantig: Thanks for stopping by! I write for children, so reading out of my genre is necessary.

    Hammer and Rel – I agree, I find I’m inspired by great writing and I can often see in someone else’s work how to fix something I’m doing incorrectly.

    Quilly – You are an excellent example of why this article might actually be true. Stop reading…write your book!

    Icey – Thanks for stopping by! You make a good point.

    Reply
  • 7. Delmonti (Dave)  |  February 17, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    I’m not a great reader of books…. I maybe get through 2 or 3 a year! (I know, I know….).

    Currently tryiong to get into Cloud Atlas…. although, it’s very slow, I may just lob it onto the “too slow” pile yet.

    Reply
  • 8. Absolute Vanilla (an  |  February 17, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I find reading while I’m working on my own manuscripts is very distracting – so what I tend to do is not read while I’m writing and read lots when I’m not – you know those times inbetween editing a manuscript or starting another. I find reading deeply influential, and am a firm believer in read, read, read – but at the appropriate times so that your own voice isn’t hijacked.
    And I mostly read in my genre – but not always.

    Reply
  • 9. katcampbell  |  February 18, 2008 at 2:14 am

    Dave – You’re just saving up all your reading time for my book. My rule of thumb for books is: if you haven’t grabbed me by page 100 – straight to the yard sale.

    AV – Distracting is exactly the right term. Time spent reading is time away from writing in my case.

    Reply
  • 10. frothingatlemouse  |  February 18, 2008 at 4:15 am

    At some point I hope I can actually finish something, if only to produce something that even mildly resembles what entertains me. I love good stories, humor, creepiness, whatever. I would love to contribute to the stream, just knowing how much I like to read.
    Sorta like having kids. I want them to enjoy the ups and downs and weirdness that is life, which is why I had them. Did that make sense? Of course, it’s deeper than that, but, you know. Now I’m blathering.

    Reply
  • 11. Hayden  |  February 18, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I agree. The need to write is fed, (although poorly) by reading in the same genre. I adore Tolstoy, Gabriell Garcia Marquez, Salmon Rushdie, Milan Kundera. I know I will never write anything to compare. Still, the pleasure of reading is less OVER ALL, than the pleasure of writing. When I read, though, it lessons the hunger to write, and overall, reading is so much easier.

    I stopped reading novels – with exceptions for a few I consider masters – years ago. Instead I read books on science, on critters. Somehow understanding the amazing secrets of “how things work” feeds my need to write – perhaps because my writing tends to be about “how things work” from the perspective of human emotions.

    Perhaps those who have never read voraciously are best served by reading – it was so much a part of my daily routine from the time I was tiny that I do recognize the cadence of language, the power of spare line, the word-webs that suck you in, unawares, to a central point of inevitable action –

    Reply
  • 12. colleen  |  February 20, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Reading inspires me to write. Sometimes it feels like too much second hand information when I’m avoiding first hand accounts.

    Reply
  • 13. Jamaican Dawta  |  February 20, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    “I still believe the best writers are readers”.
    Oh yes, I agree, which means I need to read more. 🙂

    “How many times have you been half way through a best seller and thought “man, I wish I would have written that”? Worse, how many times have you been curled up with a book and thought “what’s the use, I can never top this”? Have you ever blown out a weekend reading someone else’s book when you should have been writing yours?”

    You’ve just described me to a T. But I think, finding one’s own unique voice should be every writer’s focus. After all, it would be so boring if everyone’s writings sounded the same. I like to read other writers’ works so that I can learn the various writing styles and increase my vocabulary.

    Thanks for sharing the points in that article.

    Reply

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