Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Reading

Before I became a writer I was a schizophrenic reader. I devoured books one after another, plowing through them like it was no one's business. Then I would burn out and not read, only to pick up another book four months later and wonder why I hadn't read for so long and the cycle would continue.

Since I've started writing, I've learned to savor the books, I don't worry about trying to finish a 400 page novel in one day. I understand how important it is for me to keep reading. And as much as I enjoyed it before, I have a better appreciation for how reading can help my writing.

Over the past couple of weeks I've noticed something amazing happening when I read. I pay attention to grammar and different styles more, and I can break down different descriptions of scenarios. It's more than helpful, with each word I read a little seed gets planted in my head. My own ideas start to sprout, and I've felt the stories help to start inspire. Fresh and new ideas that I know wouldn't be there if I wouldn't keep on the reading track.

A lot of published writers really promote reading, and while I've always read since I was a little girl, I finally understand why.

What are some stories that inspire you? Have you noticed how reading helps you in your writing? Let me know, I'd love to hear!


Cody Taylor said...

I find that when I'm in the middle of writing for my own pleasure I don't read too much, the writer's voice intrudes upon mine. But when I get stuck I always turn to one of my many short story collections. The shorter the story the better. I like being able to pick up a collection of pieces and get a feel for the tight writing in the story. Anyway, since I'm not doing too much writing I'm trying to figure out what to read, Aimme Bender is the direction I'm leaning, The Girl In The Flammable Skirt. Great post, once you become a writer you learn to read like one.

onipar... said...

I've always been a slow reader, taking a week or more for each book. I actually prefer *not* to notice grammar, and if I do usually means the writer did something wrong. Though, when I'm reading for reviews (I write reviews for Dark Scribe Mag) I *have* to pay close attention to everything, which makes the reading even slower.

Either way, reading most definitely helps us become better writers. Just absorbing all those stories and characters, not to mention styles, brings us one step closer.

K. Allen Wood said...

I was never a close reader before writing fiction. I would never have picked up on Dan Brown's bad habits ten years ago. I would have simply read an enjoyable story. (And I do think the guy can tell a story, which I'll take any day over a fabulous technical writer than can't tell a damn story.) But I catch that stuff now.

And while that's actually turned me off of some writers I once enjoyed, it's also allowed me to fully enjoy other authors I could never get into. Stephen King being the biggest. I never cared for the guy's style; it bored me. But now, while I still think he rambles too often, I find his work far more engrossing.

Too bad I can't get back all his books that I sold or traded. Haha.

Ken Kiser said...

Hi Hinny, I noticed that you are a frequent visitor on many of the blogs I read, and followed the breadcrumbs back to here. It's always nice to meet another fellow writer. For what it's worth, I'll add you to my links page. Keep writing and don't give up on your dreams. I'll be back to read more.

K.Hinny said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and reading!

Cody, I can see how that can happen, I'll have to check out that book. I've see it in my store and it looks interesting.

Onipar, the only reason I pay attention to the grammar is because I'm still learning and I like to see how different authors try to use grammar to make an impact. And that's so cool you do reviews!

Ken W. I actually feel the same way about certain books as well. I don't think I would have been able to plow through some that I have if I haven't been writing now.

Ken K. Thanks for stopping by! I'll pop over to your blog soon!

Happy writing!

Bea Sempere said...

Hi Hinny,

I read a lot, which did help my writing. It was about 2 years into writing when I found my internal editor kick in. Now I struggle to enjoy a book without critiquing and finding flaws. I hope my reading enjoyment returns some time soon. My reading shelf keeps increasing.

BUT reading does help me see what to do and what not to do.

Take care.


K.Hinny said...

Hey bea! Thanks for stopping by! I'm finally starting to listen to my internal editor. And I've found that while I read, I like to leave comments in the margins for things I like or not :D Mostly, I find things I like though.

Shad B. said...

This may sound as if it's literary elitism but I do believe it: One must read Shakespeare. I'm currently enrolled in a Shakespeare class, actually, that is discussion-based and the professor is absolutely marvellous, with a lot of knowledge on a lot of different things. I can't say that it's pushed me to read in a more meticulous manner (the professor himself has inspired me to do that) but to read the words of Shakespeare and to really discuss them, in depth, is a phenomenal experience.

Reading him also gives you a greater grasp on what sort of language sounds better and in what manners telling a story works best. There's a reason he never goes out of style.

K.Hinny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shadow said...

I devour books, even now. I can read a 300 page book in only a few hours. But just like you Miss Hinney, now that I am concentrating more on my writing I have slowed down. While I do pay more attention to grammar, I do find that I pay more attention to the voice of the writer and why that appeals to me. I do have to say that some of my favorites have notes in the margins and a few sheets of sticky notes among the pages when I find something that needs fixing or something I particularly like. But definitely, keep reading. You always have room to learn.

K.Hinny said...

Shad B. that sounds like a wonderful class and to me, not elitist at all. I love learning and discussing all sorts of things. That class sounds incredible.

I do love Shakespeare. I have almost his whole collection of poems/plays, though I haven't read him for a while... now I'm starting to wonder if I should pick it up... :D


Shadow, I plan to always keep reading. :D I like the fact that I've slowed down a little bit to digest the stories. It helps me ingest them a little more. Thanks for commenting!

E. F. Collins said...

I read an obscene amount of books, but I find that if I read just (read as minutes) before writing, I end up channeling whomever I was reading. So, I have to wait for an hour or two to get out of that mode.

K.Hinny said...

I know your wonderful reading habits Effie! Thanks for sharing!

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

I've always read a tremendous amount, and I find I have to switch my brain into reader mode to really enjoy a book. If it's in writer-mode or worse, edit-mode, I find errors or other things that hamper my enjoyment. Reading is so important as a writer, even when you come across a book you can't really get into, or don't identify with the characters. It only makes your own words that much stronger.

Paula Ray said...

I've always struggled to read. As a kid, I had to sing the words in my head to retain what I was reading. Now, when I start reading something I like--all these ideas pop in my head and I want to write them down and I get distracted. I've found that I do better if I listen to the words being read aloud and just let my mind paint the pictures of what I hear. So audio books work great for me. I feel like a freak, but it is what it is.

K.Hinny said...

Damien, I'm still working on that :D But I'm sure it will happen to me eventually! And I totally agree with you. Thanks for reading!

Paula, you're not a freak, you found something that works for you and you rolled with it! I think it's great. I have the same thing happen to me when I read, but I made a special "bank" in my mind where all ideas go until I'm done reading. (Now, whose the freak? :P)

Hello. said...

Great post, Hinny!

I've always loved reading. It's a big part of my down time and I draw an insane amount of pleasure from a great story. A few people who never fail to entertain me are Tom Piccirilli, Douglas Clegg, John Connolly, Jack Ketchum and some others.
I can't imagine not reading all the time. It's as much a part of me as writing is.

K.Hinny said...

Thanks for stopping by Lee!