Friday, June 13, 2014

Does Writing Sour Reading? - by Debra H. Goldstein

I can’t remember when I couldn’t read.  Picking out letters from the newspaper, storybooks, or off milk cartons made my day. My mother introduced me to the library at an early age and I still can recall how excited I was the day I printed my name and received my very own library card.  

Young Girl Sitting & ReadingMy reading speed also made reading rewarding for me.  I would race through the summer reading program award minimum in a few days and then quickly read enough books to guarantee winning whatever prize I desired.  Reading also made it possible for me to endure boring junior high and high school classes – it wasn’t unusual for me to check out a book before school, read it during the day, and take a different one home to read at night.  A good book always helped me relax during college exam days, when traveling for work, on vacation, or for a few minutes before bed.
PuppiesMy joy in reading changed when I opted to make writing a career.  The pressure of deadlines and wanting to write meant my reading time became more limited.  It also became less enjoyable.

The more I learned about writing, the more critical a reader I became.  I had always analyzed a mystery to figure out whodunit in advance of the writer revealing the culprit, but now I found myself examining each page for the technical way the author hid clues. Weaknesses in voice, plot, or character became so much more pronounced that there were times I feared I couldn’t force myself to finish a book.  When a book dragged, I wanted to take a green pen and cross out the offensive paragraphs.  The few times I found a book that read like the old days, I savored my time with it and usually grabbed more books by the same author.

I have talked to other authors and discovered that some rarely read for fear of stealing an idea while others read books in genres different than they write for the same reason.  Other writers believe that the more they read of any type of book, the better a writer they become.  Think about your reading habits – has writing or wanting to write changed them?






3 comments:

  1. Over the years I've learned to turn off my editing button when reading for pleasure--unless something totally unnerving shows up. I read mysteries while I'm writing them. I'm not the least bit afraid of copying. I read in spurts--same way I write. Good post.

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  2. My pet peeve (one of many!) is the repetition of words and phrases, especially if they’re distinctive. As long as I don’t notice them, all is well … but once I do notice I want to scream "Editor!"

    One of my early readers told me I used the word arena several times in my draft of Murder at the Book Group (ex. Her history with Linda qualified
    in the mistake arena). Sure enough, the word appeared 5 times! I cut it down to two, several chapters apart.

    Good post, Debra.

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