Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Reading Like A Writer

Blog Conversation about Choosing What to Read . . .


Choosing what to read Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; but, tune in on the other days of the week for re-blogs from valuable sources I’ve found…

Our last conversation—“What Should I Write?”—ended on June 22nd, because there were no comments; though it did have a run of 4 posts…

So, to begin our discussion about Choosing What to Read, I’ll throw out some thoughts and provocations and hope they elicit a few comments from some of you…

In a related Conversation, back in April—Reading like a Writer—I said (with tongue partially in cheek):

“Not all writers who balance reading and writing take care to read books recommended by ‘Net-Gurus.

“Many very serious writers actually make their own decisions about what they read; and, often, it’s exactly what they most like reading—the stuff that gets them thinking like a writer—the books that inspire their own personal brand of creativity…”

Then, I said:

“My all-time favorite fiction writer is C. J. Cherryh and I’m in process with a reading marathon of her work—many I’ve read before, some I’ve never touched—around 20 books…”

I did have a series of poetry books lined up, too; but; my Muse as since stopped me from reading those…

So

I chose to read a bunch of fiction books to prepare for writing a poetry book—weird, eh?

I will now boldly state, There Are No Rules for Choosing What to Read! { notwithstanding what various Internet “Gurus” may say; except, the rules you impose on yourself… }

That said, you may have various paradigms or plans or schemes or patterns or methods you use to choose what to read—it’s just those “rules” that should bother you :-)

I’m not going to banter around with my ideas of how to choose the books you read; but, I will give you 30 Reasons to Read from the Serious Reading site (I’m leaving out their descriptions for each reason…).

You may or may not incorporate some of them into your reading paradigms or plans or whatever…

You may notice that some of them strongly support reading physical books, though I love digital…

And, even though the list is Reasons to Read, it’s real easy to make them be

Reasons to Choose What to Read

Gives knowledge
Improves your brain
Reduces stress
Improves memory
Improves imagination
Develops critical thinking skills
Builds vocabulary
Improves writing skills
Improves communication skills
Improves focus and concentration
A fruitful hobby
Cheap entertainment
Motivation
Improves health
Makes you more empathetic
Improves Skills
Build self-esteem
Portable entertainment
Helps you sleep better
Learn about another world
Socialization
Improves creativity
Learn at your own pace
Lots of choices to choose from
Improves morals
Learn about your history
Save money
No side effects of the digital world
Makes you smarter
Books are better than movies

Still

I’m sure some of you have ways you choose what to read that are not at all about anything I’ve included in this post…

Care to Share in the Comments?

Naturally, your comment can absolutely be about some of the things I’ve already said

It only takes one comment to keep this conversation going  ( or, to share topics from the realms of Reading, Writing, and Publishing that you’d rather discuss :-)
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Continuing the Conversation ~ Reading like a Writer . . .


Reading like a writer And so, we continue from last Wednesday’s post, A Conversation about Reading like a Writer . . .

You may want to see what was said in that post, since two well-seasoned writers are quoted…

But, to continue…

Here’s what a reader said in a comment to that post; and, what I responded with:

“I read anything. I always have, so I read a lot of rubbish along with good writing. It is only occasionally I stop following the story to notice the way the author uses language. That is when I learn how to improve my own writing. I review almost every book I read but I forget them almost immediately after I have read them, with the exception of works by Stephen King. Maybe I should read a book more than once?”

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“Well…the books I’ve read more than once are, to me, quite like the ones I’ve read once—I remember certain scenes and the overall “feel” of the book; but, certainly not the whole thing—that would probably take me 10 readings :-)”

So…

That reader and I are both writers…

We both stop only occasionally to notice specifically what the author’s doing…

Is that a trait of folks who read like a writer?

Do other writers stop and notice more often?

And, is forgetting most of a book something writers have in common with most readers…?

I feel I should share a bit from the post preceding this one—from the book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), by Francine Prose:

Concerning writers reading to learn how to write—“…the connection has to do with whatever mysterious promptings make you want to write. It’s like watching someone dance and then secretly, in your own room, trying out a few steps.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

“The only time my passion for reading steered me in the wrong direction was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school….I left graduate school and became a writer.”

So…

The commenter from last Wednesday and Francine Prose say at least one thing similarly:

“…I read a lot of rubbish along with good writing.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

Those are similar statements if you can link “rubbish”reading with “rising star six-figure, two-book contract”reading…

Yet our commenter reads a lot of it and Francine merely recommends not confining oneself to it…

Now, I’ll interject a bit more of my own feeling…

Of course, it’s feeling from a man who is officially old and who began writing seriously late in life…

And, it only relates to my current reading-like-a-writer activity…

I’m in the middle of reading at least 20 books (some re-reads, some not…) by my absolutely most-favorite fiction author, C. J. Cherryh

Ms. Cherryh happens to be a Risen Star and morethantwobookcontract author who has never written rubbish…

Plus, I’m only confining myself to her books until I read six books of poetry by various authors…

All that reading because I’m a seasoned old man who loves writing and listens, carefully, to his Muse when he must read like a writer…

Two ideas in closing:

1.) If you share a comment on this post, you’ll help this particular topic continue on Wednesday…
2.) But, you could share a comment about some other topic(s) you’d like to discuss…

Number two should be in the realms of Reading, Writing, or Publishing; or any combination of those realms :-)
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A Conversation about Reading like a Writer . . .


Reading like a Writer There were no comments on this past Monday’s post—Our Blog Conversation Stays Focused on Truth in Fiction—so, I get to venture in my own direction… :-)

And, my personal directional focus for the current long-haul is what many writers spend much of their time doing—Reading

Not all writers write every day, contrary to what the ‘Net-Gurus keep screaming.

Not all writers who balance reading and writing take care to read books recommended by ‘Net-Gurus.

Many very serious writers actually make their own decisions about what they read; and, often, it’s exactly what they most like reading—the stuff that gets them thinking like a writer—the books that inspire their own personal brand of creativity…

My all-time favorite fiction writer is C. J. Cherryh and I’m in process with a reading marathon of her work—many I’ve read before, some I’ve never touched—around 20 books…

And, there are about 5 books I’ll read after those—various works of poetry…

I’m preparing to go from writing my series of shorts—The Story Bazaar—to writing a second poetry book; and, contrary to those pesky ‘Net-Gurus, I’m doing only what my Muse urges me to do…

I’ll share a bit from a writer I often re-blog here, Roz Morris, from a post she wrote for Writers Helping WritersRead More Fiction (a note for non-fiction writers—you can easily “translate” what she says...):

“…we’re all story lovers. But I mentor a lot of authors and you wouldn’t believe the number who tell me they make a deliberate point of not reading other fiction. I ask their reasons, and the answers have a certain logic:

  • They don’t want to be influenced by other writers or inadvertently copy an idea, character, or plot situation.
  • They need to spend the time writing because they’re struggling to fit enough hours in.

“But when I’m critiquing their work, I frequently see problems that could be solved by studying the fiction of others. Here’s the short list of the usual suspects:

Boring Exposition
Failing to Give Readers What They Want
Dialogue Issues
Writing that Falls Flat

And, here comes another attempt to give you a reason to comment on this post and keep the Conversation going:

My past post, How To Read Like A Writer, that considers the book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), by Francine Prose.

Here are just a few statements from that book:

Concerning writers reading to learn how to write—“…the connection has to do with whatever mysterious promptings make you want to write. It’s like watching someone dance and then secretly, in your own room, trying out a few steps.”

“You will do yourself a disservice if you confine your reading to the rising star whose six-figure, two-book contract might seem to indicate where your own work should be heading.”

“The only time my passion for reading steered me in the wrong direction was when I let it persuade me to go to graduate school….I left graduate school and became a writer.”

So…

I hope I’ve given you enough to ponder so you can share your thoughts and/or feelings in the Comments to continue this particular topic…

And, if you’d rather, share a comment with your own suggestion for a Conversation here…

All suggestions need to be in the realms of Reading or Writing or Publishing; or, any two at a time; or, all three at once :-)
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Visit The Story Bazaar
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Best Source for “Book Promotion” Ideas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~ My Bio
Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

So You Think You’re A Writer…


So, maybe you are a writer; or, you fondly hope you might be…

Reading Like A Writer

Reading Like A Writer

How do you confirm whether you really are a writer or whether you might actually be able to become one?

One idea would be to write something and ask your friends…

Perhaps that’s not a good idea—if they really are your friends, they might just tell you the truth…

So, do you think they’d say you’re a good writer; or, would they suggest some other hobby you should pursue?

Another idea would be to ask yourself—your deepest self—if you’re a writer…

The worst that could happen is that your self might say no…

Can you live with that?

What if you think you could learn to be a writer?

How would you go about studying the art?

Please, oh please, don’t say take a course in creative writing.

Perhaps, you’ve already committed yourself to being a writer; perhaps, already published a book or two.

Do you honestly, deeply feel you’re a real writer?

I don’t mean the feeling that you could be a better writer—I mean the feeling that what you’ve already written qualifies as something a real writer does…

One suggestion—whether you want to be a writer or are one—one insider tip about the process of becoming a writer: read this past post—How To Read Like A Writer.

Also, I suggest you read the book that post is about—Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.).

If you can’t do either of those suggestions, try reading this Wikipedia article about Reading Like A Writer.

If you can’t do that, try listening to this talk by Francine Prose, the author of Reading Like A writer

One little hint about learning to write, for those who can’t do any of my suggestions—you must read all the good authors you can get your hands on if you ever hope to learn to write…

But, please, oh please, don’t read their books about how to write…

O.K., I’ve done my good deed for the day—back to writing my next book………
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Why Writers Must Read In Order To Become Authors


A writer is someone who puts words down.

An author is not necessarily a writer who’s gotten published

I know, lots of folks think authors are published writers but words do have meanings and “author” comes from ‘a person who invents or causes something’ which comes from Old French autor, from Latin auctor, from augere ‘increase, originate, promote’.

So, there’s this person sitting there, all alone, putting words on paper or screen—a writer—and a strange thing begins to happen—the words begin to organize themselves into a meaningful story—the writer becomes an author—a process which usually happens many times during the intense effort to ‘increase, originate, promote’—often morphing from writer to author to writer to author

Also, this process of a writer being able to become an author is not “taught” in creative writing courses—just ask a few honest creative writing instructors

So how does a writer learn to transform themselves into an author?

Reading other authors, to trigger the writer>author process in themselves, then sitting and writing until they become an author enough times to complete a story.

Please read our previous post How To Read Like A Writer to learn about writer, author, creative writing instructor Francine Prose’s book—one great Read!

Some of you may be wanting to shout at me that there are authors out there who have courses that a bunch of other people are shouting about, saying “This is the way to learn to become an author!”

Please read Francine’s book. She gets very personal, telling you how every technique she’s taught has been overturned by examples from successful authors

There are many books I’ve read—some consciously forgotten—that have helped me become an author.

The ones that have helped me the most are by C. J. Cherryh and I’ve yet to read all of her 60+, award-winning books—more like a few books re-read 4 or 5 times over the years

So, even though an author interview won’t help you learn how to be an author, it could introduce you to an author whose works, carefully read, can help you teach yourself to consistently transform writing-time into author-ness.

So let me get out of the way and direct you to the previous post A Rave for My Favorite Author ~ C. J. Cherryh so you can listen her being interviewed on video :-)
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