How to Stop Reading as a Writer

ReadingI love to read. I have ever since I first learned. Each book was like a Star Trek voyage, exploring strange new worlds, meeting fascinating new people.


The Hardy Boys and Chip Hilton filled my early years.


The Black Stallion is the one book that started me on this life-long journey of loving fiction.


And I read everything from cereal boxes on up.


And then I became a writer. And it all changed. Instead of reading to enjoy, I read to learn the craft. And some of the joy left.


Now when I read in my genre, I’m studying how the authors built their story worlds, created their characters, applied showing and not telling, developed their plots, hooked me in and kept me reading.


I thought, I’ll get the joy back by reading genres I have no inclination to write in. I read thriller author, Steven James. And research 1 book foto76get caught up in his story and come across a scene where he has two characters dealing with the same issues mine do and get an insight into how to handle it in my story. Auugh! I’m studying again.


Or I read mystery writers Elizabeth George, P.D. James, and Jacqueline Winspear. And I learn from their techniques for making the setting a character.


Recently, I’ve discovered Terry Pratchett who writes fantasy with a delightful sense of humor and I think, “Hmm. I have a scene similar to this and I think I can add some humor to it.”


I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t stop reading as a writer and I need to just settle in and enjoy the ride.


How about you? Are you able to read a novel for the sake of enjoying it? How do you turn off the writer inside?


4 Responses to How to Stop Reading as a Writer

  1. Gina Lynnes September 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    I’ve reached exactly the same conclusion! So I’ve quit fighting it and just go for it with gusto. When I find dialogue that sparkles like a mountain spring, I splash around in it to my heart’s content. I read it to my husband (who always appears mystified by my glee). When I find an ingenious plot twist or a characterization that grabs my heart, I roll around in it like an itchy horse in clover, hoping and praying that some of it will rub off on me. The way I see it now–nobody can enjoy a book like a writer!

  2. Henry September 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Thank you, Pastor Gina. When I find something in a story that touches my heart and spurs my craft, I revel in let as one of God’s divine appointments.

  3. Darlene L. Turner September 5, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    I do the exact same thing, Henry! There are times I want to turn the writer off while reading, but “they” say that every good writer is a good reader. So…we learn as we read. Killing two birds with one stone. Enjoying a good story and learning from it.

    Double bonus! Thanks for this post.

  4. Henry September 5, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    Thanks, Darlene.

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