Right now I'm working on edits of another suspense. (more on that at another time) Today I want to discuss something I heard from a friend last week. He told me that he hasn't been writing as much lately because he had discovered that he hadn't been reading enough.
Huh? It sounded weird at first, but it got me to thinking and he is right.
Sometimes when I find myself in a dull period in my writing, I discover I need to do the same thing. I’ve always enjoyed reading so it isn’t hard for me to want to do it for enjoyment. There's nothing quite like sitting down with a good book or short story and getting buried in it.
But there are other times when it is also helpful to do your reading as homework. Dare I say study?
How many times have we heard bestselling authors say, read, read, read?It keeps us connected. Reading can bring me out of the doldrums and get me going again. I especially find it true when I’m editing. Suddenly I find myself questioning everything. I don’t like the way I've written something and I start questioning my voice, my word choice, EVERYTHING.
I've learned that reading works by others and analyzing the way they say things can help me to put new spark into my own work. Suddenly I’m exposed to different word flow, different voices and it helps me analyze my own work in the same way. Was that how I wanted to write that scene? What can I do to make the scene livelier, more compact yet get my point across?
What about dialogue? Am I using too many tags? Am I using dialogue as an information dump? What do I like about the way they've written a passage? What don't I like about it? What do I like about their voice? I look at my favorite authors and question why I like their work so much, why I enjoy their voice. I look for the little things that they do as authors to make their work special and unique. At other times I take time to study work by writers I don't normally read and look for the difference in why I don't usually buy their books. Sometimes I even discover a new favorite author that way.
Then when I sit down with my own work, I spend a few minutes looking at what I like about what I'm writing and how I want to get my own story across. Before long I've rediscovered my own rhythm, my own voice and I'm ready to move forward again.
So take the time and read, read, read. It’s important to read in your own genre, but reading outside your genre can also introduce you to new worlds too. Enjoy your reading… I’ll be sitting down with a mimosa and a good book and doing some homework.
Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you think of reading for enjoyment and as a way to study your craft.