#secondthoughts: Writers reading

Unless highly successful or very fortunate, most writers struggle with finding the time to write – be that uninterrupted, quality or regular time – for the issue comes in as many flavours as do writers themselves. Of course, on top of the writing itself, there’s also the requirement to find time to edit, to re-write following feedback, to query, and to market if you’re successful in publishing.

But how about finding the time to read? Adding the requirements of daily life to a writer’s workload, how does a writer find time to read? Time crunched writers, especially those with other responsibilities are forced to hunt down minutes for writing, let alone hours … and let’s face it, reading can take up many an hour.

Yet successful authors tells us how important it is that writers read, and read a lot – so how do you choose what gets your valuable reading minutes? Do you use your time as research – reading how-to publications, or the work of other writers in your genre, both from a writing skills and a know-your-market perspective? Do you feel any form of reading is self-indulgent when there are so many other calls upon your time, or is it important and necessary? Is it easier to read guilt-free by sticking with the reading-as-research option? But … is there a writer alive for whom reading wasn’t their first love and if you were to stick only to the reading-as-research option, doesn’t that feel entirely lacking in joy?

Even if you’re in the fortunate position of being able to take time to read in a guilt-free manner – what do you choose to read? A writer recently described how he’d noticed (with hindsight) that influences from his fictional reading material had appeared in his writing – not so much in terms of plot lines and structure, more that of voice. As a result, when in writing mode, he now only reads non-fiction, returning to fiction only once his writing is complete.

Did those successful authors who advocate reading for writers assume we’d not find the time to read fiction while writing, except for the purposes of research? Perhaps they didn’t feel it necessary to specify, as it seemed obvious to them that a writer’s sole focus would be on writing and we’d not be reading – except for research – until the writing was complete.

I’ve been reading Jasper Fforde’s Early Riser and noticed it’s been drifting into my dreams. Not entirely surprising you might say, except that when I’m absorbed in writing a story, I tend to dream where it’s to go, so it’s both illuminating and a cause for concern how much crossover there could be from the fiction being read into the fiction being written. As a novice writer, it also makes complete sense to me that my voice could be especially vulnerable to outside influence.

When David and I wrote the bulk of our current WIP, the only reading I had time for was research and re-reads of the chapters already drafted. With this new input, I can see how that made it easy for me to keep the voice present and consistent. Since then, I’ve written in fits and starts, slipped into snatched bits of time here and there, and I’ve struggled. Now the reason behind that struggle is making so much sense.


© Debra Carey, 2019

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics. I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun, where my #IWSG reflections can be found; and my Life Coaching business can be found on DebsCarey.com.

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