Reading as a Writer

So I’ve been looking around a bit for a good blog hop kind of thing for this year. Ronel the Mythmaker had a recent post about plans for 2017 and she mentioned The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Finally a group for me!

The question prompt for February is How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader? which even more so made me go, this is for me!

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Reading

I used to be a good reader. When I get into reading I can be a good reader. Staying up until the next day, reading all day through, doing everything while holding the book (or ipad which is how I read these days, or listening).

But I get into ruts these days. I slow down, way down. I focus on all the wrong things. Because I stop and slow down and can’t stop thinking about the writing craft of it. Why did the author make this choice? What made the author select this tense? Why this character? What was the motivation? But this thing here didn’t lead to that thing. How did that happen? But what happened to her bag? The body was in the trunk for so long it must have gotten stinky, did they take it to a detailer?

I have a hard time making reading fun and completely immersive right now. Still stumbling. I haven’t finished a book joyfully and enthusiastically in a while. I’ve read several, I’ve done a lot of reading and even enjoyed it. But not completely immersed in the world to the point of not seeing the seams. I feel like I am really seeing the seams right now.

I was having a similar problem last winter and I managed to hit a pocket where I was able to fall into books. As soon as I hit the pocket I managed to stay in it for a couple months and read through books at a very good pace. And then I fell out. As soon as a seam was spotted, now they are all there again. I keep stumbling over them.

DNF

I’ve not finished several books that I’m sure were very good. I just couldn’t break that barrier. I’m going to keep trying until I fall out of this hole.

Audiobooks are generally better, not perfect, but an audiobook at 1.25 is harder to find seams in because first, I can’t see any errors in the text, and they are often moving fast enough in the ear that I miss them. Second, I just don’t have as long to pause and ruminate on each section as it runs past. I have to dig out the device and pause it, and by the time I do that I’ve often missed it. Which is great. But right now I’m even failing at that.

Bad writer. No cookie.

24 thoughts on “Reading as a Writer

  1. Good points. But I’m here to promise you that when you do read a well written book with great prose and fascinating characters, you’re going to forget you’re a writer and sail away. It’s an awesome feeling to reach the end and realize you were hooked big time.

    1. I feel like some of the books I’ve tried were good. I think it is a headspace shift that is just hard. I know when I’ve managed to shift out I’ve gone back to books I wanted to read and just sailed through them. Like really great authors (Lois McMaster Bujolds latest is still waiting patiently for me. I’m sure I’ll love it but it just hasn’t dug it’s claws into me). I don’t want to blame the books for my failing as a reader.

  2. stephaniemichelleleland

    I feel you. I have a few authors I can still immerse myself in, Terry Pratchett and Patricia Briggs being two. But mostly, I find myself getting frustrated. I blame not only my writing, but my critiquing. I find myself stopping to consider telling the author that this particular plot point or characterization didn’t work. Then I have to stop and remind myself that this novel is already published, and the author does not want my critiques on it. Tough habits to break, all the same.

    1. Yes! This is a great point. It is certainly worse when I’m doing a lot of critiques, or making decisions on flash. I don’t seem to have the same problem with flash because it doesn’t require getting through to get into so when I am reading a lot of that maybe I’m getting lazy about getting into it too.

  3. Thanks for the mention, I’m glad to have helped πŸ™‚
    I’ve found that once I’m aware of being critical of the story I’m reading instead of enjoying it, I take a break, figure out why I’m being nitpicky (usually something to do with my own writing if the story and structure is fine) and then I’ll just tell the inner-editor to shut up (like she has to during NaNoWriMo) and the fun of reading can commence. I hope you can find that joy in reading again – it’s close to where the joy of writing lies πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! Your post really kicked my brain off, so much appreciated it. I’m not all that great about getting my inner-editor to shut up, I’m more of a if you shout loud enough or just put your head down and keep going you can sort of ignore it, but it never shuts up, it’s always there, lurking, ready to pounce. Which is fine for writing, less fine for reading other people’s stuff.

      And you are completely right about the joy. I like the joy, I want to, and need to find it again, and when I hit that groove I’m going to hang on for as long as the ride will have me.

    1. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one! I do like the audiobooks are a different format, which …sort of makes me wonder, would comics be the same, to kick start getting back into the rut, or out of it I guess? I may have to try that.

    1. I really don’t want to blame the books, I mean, I’ve gotten lost and totally immersed in books that looking back weren’t that great. Though it might take a really great book to pull my brain back out of analyze mode.

  4. I know what you mean about “falling into a pocket.” There’s a certain routine you get into when you start reading books that it’s suddenly easier to read more. I go through periods where I’ll read 3-4 books in two weeks, and then go two months without being able to finish anything. Like you said, it’s about getting into the right headspace. And inertia, I guess. Momentum counts for a lot. πŸ™‚

    IWSG February

  5. I never thought about how audio books would hide some issues. Glad you joined IWSG. I can still enjoy a book even when I’m thinking all those writerly things. If there are so many issues that it takes me out of the story then I figure it wasn’t worth my time and I stop reading it with no guilt.

    1. They can absolutely smooth out some of the wrinkles, sort of like really great lighting can make you look younger or older (whichever you prefer). You just don’t see that there was a typo, you never have to stumble over conlag, you don’t go, grr! Why isn’t there a comma here? (Assuming of course it is a good narration.)
      I think you’ve got a very good way of looking at it. Thank you!

    1. Yes! And it can be good and bad. On the other hand I have rarely learned as much about writing as I have doing audiobook narration. Every single flaw is laid bare. Pre-read, as your narrating, every retake, editing, final pass. You really get to know the intimate details of a book doing vo work! I do wonder a little if based on what Stephanie mentioned above there is something of the critique lurking there too. I’m reading things with an eye to what they sound like. Which is why I like audiobooks, someone else already did that for me!

    1. Thank you very much! I hate when I hear mistakes in audio that are still there. With my own I have to go back and edit it and fix it. Which is why once it is released I don’t listen again. I’d never move forward I’m afraid. πŸ™‚
      Cookies good!

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