This is another topic I touched on before my old site went down, and yet again it’s a topic I feel is still important enough to revisit. Last time, though, I had one giant blog, but this time I’m going to turn it into a series. Today, we’ll talk about why it’s important to read like a writer, and the rest of the series will cover how exactly you do that.
I know, I know–why force you guys to read more than one blog post on the topic? Well, on the self-serving side, this “blog-a-day” thing is way easier when I have content that is spreadable across a few days. Two, my original article was well over two thousand words long, and it’s a well-known trend in Marketingland that articles posted above seven-hundred words rarely get read all the way through. That’s right, folks–in the fast-paced world that is the internet, people do not want to read one article for more than a few minutes. Shocking, right?
Don’t even pretend you don’t flick between browser tabs like there’s no tomorrow. You know exactly what I mean.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. We all hear that writers should be reading, but do you know exactly why? It’s more than just our love of books, which is what got us into writing in the first place, that makes it important for our soul: reading is important for our work.
BUT–some writers are better readers than others. No, I don’t mean that some have more time to pick up a book than others, though that is certainly true (and unfortunately we all fall into the “too busy to read” category far too often). What I mean is, some writers read like readers, while others read like writers.
It’s important to read like a writer for a few reasons:
One, you learn more about what you do and don’t like out of writing.
When you read like a reader, you tend to gloss over the writing and focus more on the story. While that’s totally fine, if that’s what your into, it doesn’t help you get a real sense for what kind of writing really gets you going, or more importantly, why it affects you the way it affects you.
Two, start to understand another author’s methods.
This is especially true if you read the same author all the time. As you continue to read work from one author, you’ll start picking up on little tricks he uses in all his work–his “style,” if you will. And if it’s an author you don’t read often, or have never read before, you’ll catch tricks a little easier because you’re actively looking for them.
Three, you’ll slow the eff down.
I know when I read like a reader, nothing can stop me from consuming a really good book in a matter of days other than sleep depravity (and that’s a rare occasion) or work (more common). However, when I read like a writer, I take my time to really understand bits about the book and all the elements that went into making it.
There are a few things I’ll be going over in the “how to” sections coming up: conventions, characterization, plotline, and author intentions. These are the major factors I personally pay the most attention to when I’m making sure to read something as a writer rather than just a reader.
What about you other writers? Anyone else out there differentiate between reading like a “reader” and reading like a “writer?”