Do writers read differently?

I am one of those people that researches anything I get involved with to the extreme. Since making the decision to write a novel I have immersed myself in reading advice on writing, stories of successful writing and, most importantly, on how to be a good writer. On the subject of being a good writer, there are two pieces of advice that seem to be consistently present (stop me if you heard this one before) write everyday and when not writing, read.

I understand that the advice to write everyday is an extreme view of what writers should do, but I also understand that to be good at anything takes a lot of practice, and writing is no different than playing an instrument or painting a picture. I also understand the need to read a lot also, just like an athlete watches others in their sport to see how they can get better, writers should read other writers books to help them get better. It is this last thought that inspired this blog post.

readingI have been a reader of books for a long time. How long? long enough that I prefer not to say 🙂 What I will say is that, to get me to read is not a problem. What I have notice though, is that since I took up the pursuit of writing a novel, I read differently. When I read now I notice the “tense” the story is being told in. I pay attention to what perspective the writer is using and how they make use of it to tell the story. I also look at things like, how do they transition from flash backs or how do they introduce new characters. I even find myself watching for commas, because I now have a weird fascination with how they can be, and should be, used.

If you are a writer, do you find that you read differently? If you have been writing for a longer time, was it more when you first started, and has since sank into the background, or do you still read like a student?

I still enjoy the stories I am reading for the story themselves, but I now have a different way to enjoy a well written book. I am finding it very intriguing that by trying to write better it is causing me to read differently.

Until next time…

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7 thoughts on “Do writers read differently?

  1. I think the mark of a truly great author is that you don’t notice the mechanics at all when you’re reading one of their books. It’s only afterwards, that you think, hey, how did they do that?

  2. Oh, absolutely! The same can probably be said for anything that conveys plot – I notice framing devices, themes, particularly clever or obtuse wordplay, character strengths and weaknesses, &c in and television as well – but with books in particular I long ago realized that I don’t just read for pleasure anymore, and I haven’t in years. Even before I decided to commit to trying to make a career out of writing, I found myself taking everything I read apart, page by page, line by line.

    Fortunately, I find I enjoy things even more now that I can appreciate how subtle word use reinforces someone’s character or captures the essence of a scene, even if it makes me jealous as all hell. And on the other side, it means that even if I don’t actually like a book, I come away with a long list of things to never do.

  3. I notice that I read much differently as a writer than other people. If I don’t like a book I need to be able to put my finger on why. Why is this book not appealing to me? What could the author have done differently? As a writer it helps me to look at what not to do. And, on the other side of the coin it helps me see what makes an awesome book.

  4. I’m aware of how differently I read now compared to before I began taking writing seriously. I rarely lose myself completely in a story anymore. I can’t help noting tense, comma usage, plot devices, underlying themes, character growth, and filler words.
    I’m also editing at the moment so that influences me too. It’s gotten to the point where I will edit what people say, in my head of course, and edit signage when I’m out and about.

    P.S. Thank you for following my blog!

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