writers / writing

#IWSG–How being a writer changed my experience as a reader

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group. Click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s question:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

This won’t surprise any writers I know: Forcing myself to tighten up the plot, vary sentence and paragraph lengths, avoid dialogue tags, and fix every bit of grammar and spelling has made me notice mistakes in even my favorite authors that I never would have in the past. I liked to think of published authors with their high-powered agents as perfect, but that simply isn’t true. They’re human. In a way, that makes them more accessible. It also gives me permission to self-publish my well-written and extreme-edited manuscript because I’ll probably be as good as other books I read.

The second way writing has changed me as a reader is I read a lot more than I used to. Many (many) authors say the key to writing is reading. I believe that. I mostly read in my genre so I can see how other successful authors develop the story arc, manage pacing, and move from crisis to crisis. This gives me ideas on how I might do it.

What about you? Do you enjoy reading more? Or less, now that you’re a writer?

More IWSG articles:

None of My Marketing Seems to Work

Beta Reader? Or not?

Should I use my first name or an initial?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

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66 thoughts on “#IWSG–How being a writer changed my experience as a reader

  1. Pingback: #IWSG–Redo an old story? Does it work? | WordDreams...

  2. Hi Jacqui!
    I have found knowledge of grammar and general writing skills to be a double-edged sword. My love of writing led me to tutor college students at the college level. I love the work, but sometimes, I wish I knew less. Having a strong foundation of grammar and general writing processes have not helped me sell my work or made me perfect—far from it—yet as you mentioned, it is sometimes a total bummer to stumble across something glaring. It’s distracting and prevents total immersion in the material which is the primary reason I read. I find myself mentally tutoring, and I am unable to turn it off. Love your website! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. Reading is the best input ingredient for writing output. Opens up your mind. Shows you different ways of expression. And, it tells you that it is not rocket science. If you like to do it, and are prepared to work for it, it will “come forth”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jacqui, interesting to read how writing has had such a positive influence on your reading. It is annoying to see errors in books as it brings that fiction world to a sudden halt and back to reality. Personally, I read as much as ever, which is a lot, however, I devour more ‘writing’ books than before. I find I read with a more critical eye, particularly regarding characterisation and plotting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I still enjoy reading very much. I’m tolerant of mistakes or obvious plot twists if I like the story and/or characters. But, if a story doesn’t keep me interested, if I don’t care for the style of writing, I put it down and pick up something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES! I’m like, how did this book get published with this glaring error? But then I realize editors are just like you and me as well, and now I can imagine the back and forths of the editing process, and it seems likely to me that things will get missed. Sometimes, now that I’m reading as a writer, I feel like reading is a chore, and it never used to be. It’s a little sad in a way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think the biggest effect reading has been responsible for is pacing. My pacing was terrible at the beginning, and only after comparing my words with those in books I enjoyed did I finally figure it out. Or at least I hope I did.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Definitely I am reading more and enjoying reading more. I keep a notebook with me while I am reading to note down any metaphor/simile that strikes me or any revelations about the plot that come to me. If the story is too good to allow me to interrupt the flow then I read it again analytically. For me the interesting wordsmithing, the metaphors are like the sparkling jewels in a story. One of my favourites: ‘Fatigue smothered Bobby James like his last girlfriends meaningless chatter’. I am dying to use this in conversation … at the appropriate time.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. An excellent article, Jacqui. I think that many print errors are actually the fault of the printing process, human error not made by the writer. That may not be as true today with digital printing, but it certainly was in decades past. My husband used to work in the printing business (so did I, for a very short time period) and the errors in the business happened every day. Easy to make, angry customers, so hard to fix.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Small mistakes in writing don’t bother me. If the story is good enough I will breeze right through it.

    My biggest pet peeve is when a book is needlessly long and I’m just smacking my head against the wall saying “shouldn’t an editor have told them to cut out like ten chapters in the middle???” This usually happens in fantasy, which seems to be a contest to see who can write the longest/heaviest book, quality be damned.

    IWSG February

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I could so relate, Jacqui. I can’t help noticing little ways to tweak the prose in the books I read, including the popular authors. The good part of that – it reminds me that no book is perfect. There’s a lot of freedom in that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s harder for me to enjoy self-published books now, because so many are littered with flaws and mistakes, but the good stuff is wayyy more fun to read now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do a bit of both. I collect books that address the theme I’m writing about and then read all of them as a group. I hope this grounds me in the era, events, empathy–whatever it is and lets my voice come through.

      Like

  13. I enjoy reading both more and less now that I’m also a writer.

    Unfortunately, some works just haven’t stood up to higher standards. Fortunately for me, though, I had fairly stringent standards as a reader, so none of my favorites got axed.

    On those, Tolkien, McKillip, McKinley, and DW Jones, in particular, the elegance of their story and prose carry the day even against stylistic differences, and I’m often held in awe at the sheer wordsmithing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Jacqui, like you, I read more, but unlike you I sometimes put it down more frequently and do not return to it either. I think plot and flashbacks are the things that stand out and when they aren’t working, or I feel like more flashbacks are used or lengthy dialogue chapters are imbedded to tell the truth instead of reveal it, I struggle. I have also come across a few books where it was clear, the character telling the story wasn’t the right character. That was a tough one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As a writer, I am now more willing to stop reading a bad book. I use to force my way through books. Now, if I start reading something that I am not enjoying or find unreadable due to bad writing, I am more than willing to stop and move on.

    Just like I am willing to delete and cut my own writing to make it better.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Jacqui – I’m trying to read more .. but then I read and want to write posts about what I’m reading! I’m not writing stories though … one day I might go in that direction … but I do notice things that don’t gel and don’t flow … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Reading is key – I admire writers who express themselves and their characters well, and the story line plot etc. I suffer from a case of the greens and wonder and envy at their skill – and of course if the story leaves me satisfied and enlarged I am a happy gal.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: #IWSG–How being a writer changed my experience as a reader — WordDreams… | Matthews' Blog

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