Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For Writers, Reading Sometimes Can Lose Its Luster

Writers like to read. Or, if they don't, they should. I mean, it's their bread and butter. It's what makes them what they are. If they don't like reading, they probably shouldn't be writing.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that writers like to read.

Or, at least much of the time they do. See, writers don't always get to read for fun. Sometimes writers have to read a book or story or article because they have to review it. Or they have to edit it. Or they are doing another writer friend a favor and are reading something so they can offer their advice about it.

And sometimes a writer reads just to see how another writer performs the craft of writing.

Which can sound like fun. But often it's not.

Even if there's a particular writer who has works you really, really enjoy, sometimes it can become a bit numbing pouring over their material. Sounds impossible? It's not. What often happens is the reader who also happens to be a writer sometimes becomes caught up in the craft and can't experience writing for the sheer enjoyment factor. Sure, this person would like to sit back and laugh or cry or scream with a book, but they're caught up in how the author puts together his or her scenes, or they're caught up in the fine use of adjectives, or they're caught up in something seemingly simple and silly like how many times an author uses the word "said" on a given page. Or there could be a thousand other things.

Also, sometimes a reader can become too familiar with a particular genre. If your really like mysteries and have read a few hundred of them by a variety of different authors, you can probably often see what's coming. This is even worse for the writer who has written a few mystery novels, maybe some short stories, too, and who has also read tons and tons of mystery books.

The writing has become all craft for this reader who is also a writer. But there is hope. Sometimes this unfortunate reader can break away and enjoy reading just for reading all over again.

How is this done?

My suggestion is to try reading works of an author with whom you've never read, maybe even in a genre of which you're not familiar. If you read mysteries all the time, try out a fantasy novel or two. If you read romance novels a lot, pick up a few thrillers. If you do this, you can find yourself pleasantly surprised. You will find new ways to tell your own tales, and you could find yourself enjoying your writing and reading more than you have in years.

No comments: