This post is participating in the 10 Day Writing Blogger Challenge, Day Eight.
The alternative prompt for this challenge asks us to Pay it Forward, and profile another writer’s blog post with our response. Today I’m profiling Gabriela Pereira’s excellent site, DIYMFA, but ranting against the whole Reading Like a Writing message found on a must-bookmark post.
Gabriela Pereira’s website, DIY MFA is a site you should be reading as an aspiring author, if you’ve not discovered it already. There are helpful posts covering many writing topics, and resources to download and use.
Example – last week DIY MFA posted ‘Reading Resources‘ – a post which has collected many previous posts from the site, on the topic, ranging from posts profiling top writing craft books, technical posts teaching us how to build our one reader profiles, and several posts discussing how to read like a writer.
In this Reading Resources post, Gabriela points out –
When we read as writers, we indirectly learn about the craft of writing. we learn what works and what doesn’t and we use what we discovered to find out solutions to problems we face in our own work.Reading like a writer not only helps us put our work into context, it can actually help us save time and energy by helping us identify which techniques to use in a given scenario.
Yes, how can we, as writers, not agree with that? We all know that a large part of our job is not to write, but to read. In fact, most of us, like me, are compulsive and life-time readers. It’s part of what makes us want to write and produce something worthwhile.
But word of warning:
Be sure. Be very sure that you want to go down this path before you make that first step into writing.
Because, Reading as a Writer has a huge problem behind it:
YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF!
All that pleasure you used to find in snuggling up with a good trashy novel, or dusting sand out of a holiday read, or just going with the flow of the book…
All that pleasure…
It can be re-found sometimes, but more often you’re too busy analysing the text as a writer – “Hmmm, how’d the author do that?” or “Oh, that jolted me out of the story like billy-o, how could I have made that passage better?” and “Whoa-oh, head-hopping” or “Man, that’s good writing, but how did they do that?” and “This was five starred and recommended by all my friends, but it’s complete dribble, looking like it’s written by a five year old.”
Yes, we can learn from it, all of it. Reading does, indeed, make us better writers. I’ve seen it in my own work. I’ve also often lost that sense of reading for pleasure more times than I would have liked. Sometimes I just wish I could shut off the writer in me, and just read the darned book. I read outside my writing genres, just to be able to be less attentive to how the reading was writ, but even then I find myself looking at it with writer eyes.
Incidentally, another post at DIYMFA entitled ‘The Art of Giving Up on Books‘ may be a little controversial for some, but provides some methods in Reading with Purpose, and tunnelling into that huge to-read pile.
What about you? How do you shut the inner-writer off enough to just enjoy reading without repercussions?
Anyway, now that I’ve somewhat ranted about this, I’m logging off – to enjoy a good book. And yes, dear Mr Wilde, it is a book I don’t have to read, but very much just want to. 😛