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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Reading and Writing - IWSG November 2018




It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. Co-hosts for November are:




To find a list of other contributors with links to their posts, click here.


Recently, I read a writer/blogger who said she never reads when she writes because she doesn’t want to feel daunted by another writer's talent. Truth be told, if the world was coming to an end I’d take a book along with me to the next stop, but the insecure me heard her message.

I’ve just finished reading Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother asked me to Tell you I’m Sorry. It’s one of the most creative books I’ve read in a while, filled with fantasy, world-building, reality-based intrigue and yearning—all flowing seamlessly from the protagonist, a precocious seven-year-old. It’s one of those books for which I skipped chores so I could read before and after work. I read it while eating breakfast and even in front of the TV while our beloved Red Sox competed in the World Series. That said, at one point while reading My Grandmother, I put the book down as I experienced a crisis of faith. His book was so darn clever. Nothing I write is remotely close. 

Amidst that ugly little moment of “give-up-itis” I had to stop the negativity train and remind myself of something important. Writing is not a competition. We’ll always discover stories we wish we had the talent and creativity to write. As long as we mine our own imaginations, passions and patience to come up with the best stories we can, as long as we aspire to become better, what more we can ask of ourselves?

Still, I needed help getting over my self-doubt. Stephen King’s On Writing, always helps me when I feel low, so I Googled and found two appropriate quotes to pull me out of my funk.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

The more you read, the less apt you are to make a fool of yourself with your pen or word processor. 

The moral of the story is that books like Backman’s can entertain AND teach. I won’t give up on them, and I won’t give up on me. After all, how bad can it be if the “homework” necessary to become a good writer involves good reading, too? 

What are your thoughts on reading while writing?

16 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We have to let those great books teach and inspire and resist the urge to compare.

Jan Morrison said...

I cannot not read so ...
I have a writer friend who says she doesn't read in the style or genre she is writing while she's in first draft mode. I get that and if that means lots of Dickens it isn't too bad. Though I'm rereading two linked novels by Margaret Drabble (The Radiant Way and A Natural Curiosity) and she was definitely dipping into the Dickens.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I read while writing. If I don't read every day, at least a little, I get cranky. No one wants that. :)

Rhonda Gilmour said...

Excellent post, Liza! I read lots while writing. And yeah, sometimes it makes me squirm with insecurity, but it's an important part of my education as a writer. I'm a romance writer, and not as strong as I'd like to be in conveying strong emotion--go figure. Studying writers who do this well lights the way toward sharpening my skills.
Happy writing in November!

Chrys Fey said...

I used to react that way and say things like, "This author writes so good!" And then I'd doubt myself and my writing and feel as though my writing was crap, but then I learned that all writers are different. We may not write like so-and-so, but we write like ourselves and that is enough. <3

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I always read, every day. Sometimes I only have a few minutes. Reading writers who I feel are so much better than me inspires me. John Hart is one of my favorites. I can read The Last Child over and over again.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was cheering for your Red Sox all the way!

cleemckenzie said...

There will always be someone who writes better than we do. I for one like to read those kinds of writers. It only makes me want to improve. Like you, I'd have a book in my hand on the way to hell or wherever. You never know. There might be a line.

emaginette said...

First never compare apples and bananas. I learned this early when my sister basically was a star. I was known as her sister. But I got over it.

Secondly, I find inspiration when I read and am always impressed on the never ending imagination of so many people. I've gotten some of my best ideas while reading someone else, sooooooo there's that.

Hang in there.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Natalie Aguirre said...

Now that I'm over my reading crisis, I have to read. Reading has been such a good friend throughout my life.

Nick Wilford said...

I do read all the time even though I don't write all the time. Everything is inspiring. I think it's worth remembering that only you can tell your story. That's such a great gift!

Connie said...

I'm always reading something. It's just part of who I am.

Joanne said...

I always read and appreciate other writers. I had to change my mind set and not compare. Everyone has their voice and it shines through in different ways. Frederik is from Norway...different from you in MA There's room on the shelf for everyone - and you just have to create your best product. Go for it...read and write.

Fundy Blue said...

I so connected with your post, Liza! How many times have I read a fabulous book and felt overwhelmed by inadequacy as a writer. That said, I can't remember the last time I had a day without reading. It must be decades ago. Love the quotes you shared, and I love Stephen King's "On Writing." Good luck as you don't give up on yourself and aspire to become a better writer!

Arlee Bird said...

Reading will often inspire me with ideas that will make me want to write. If I am immersed in writing I will often break to read, but the reading is usually research for what I'm writing about. And then there are those crazy rabbit holes I get lost in once I've started doing my research.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Diane Burton said...

I can't not read (same as with writing). A few minutes, pages, chapters before bed keeps me "in the know" with what's currently available. I've found just as many books that I could write better as ones that intimidate me with their writing. Keep reading. It can only make us better writers.