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Can you write without reading lots?

  1. Yes

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  2. No

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  1. Zyzles
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    Zyzles New Member

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    Can you like writing but not reading?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Zyzles, Jan 29, 2016.

    As that title says really...

    I very much enjoy writing, in preparation for my own (series) of books that I one day dream of publishing I have written much, pages and pages on Word spanning many thousands of words. Most of this being character profiles and a timeline of my own world I created for my books from the "birth" of this world to its death. I often spend a lot of the day dreaming about my own world, how I can write about, thinking up new plots, new characters etc.

    However there is a problem. Most authors say reading is essential to be a good writer and reading is simply not something I love. I mean I have read books and enjoyed them. But Harry Potter seems to have been the only thing I have ever truly loved and aside from that, other books I have read I find the ok or good, but I have never loved them. I have real little motivation to read. I am trying "A Game of Thrones" currently as I love the TV series so much. But I am finding it a struggle to get into. I find some chapters are really good but others seem slow and dull. And seeing as others have all said how brilliant A Song of Fire and Ice is, I am thinking the problem is me, not the book.

    Yet despite all this, I love to create my own world. I am starting to think however that what I truly love is creating my own stuff, rather than enjoying the content of others. That being said, I love TV shows and films, and will pour of the various wiki's about them. There just seems to be a barrier for books.

    That aside, going back to the original question, is it possible to write good content without reading constantly? One final note, I know this is not some mental health forum but I do have some severe anxiety/depression issues which do seem to seriously reduce my enjoyment of some activities, activities I often once used to love. I can't help but think this may be the case with reading. My mind is so distracted when reading fiction at the moment (a problem I don't really have with TV and films) and I cannot seem to become absorbed in a book like I used to. Again, I cannot help but think this may be the true cause of why I cannot get into A Game of Thrones and other material (like when I tried to read The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings).
     
  2. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Everyone skips Game of Thrones chapters of annoying POV characters. It's an unwritten rule.

    On a more serious note, what books have you been reading? I don't hold Harry Potter in very high esteem myself, so I'm surprised it's the ONLY book you've loved.
     
  3. Zyzles
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    Zyzles New Member

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    The list of stuff I've read isn't that long to be honest. I read more when I was basically a kid. Then I tried to get back into it (now 21) and that's where problems arise.

    So obviously I've read all 7 HP books, but also (and this is from memory alone):
    - Saga of Darren Shan (12 books)
    - The Demonata series (10 books)
    - The Enemy
    - Narnia: Magicians Apprentice
    - A couple Doctor Who novels (I cannot remember their names)

    And off the top of my head, that's about it... I mean there is more but it was so long ago I cannot recall. Books I've attempted to read and have given up because I couldn't get into pretty much:
    - Lord of the Rings
    - War of the Worlds
    - Narnia: Lion, Witch and Wardrobe
    - Hunger Games
    - Currently struggling with A Game of Thrones

    And that may not sound like much, but once I "give up" I tend not to try again for a fair while because of the fear I'll just simply end up not liking reading at all.
     
  4. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Well, if you don't like reading you don't like reading.

    Start with shorter classics. 1984 is usually liked (also by people who've not read it but pretend they have, unfortunately). Stay away from longer novels, all of the ones you gave up on except war of the worlds (which is 300 pages from memory) are a good few thousand pages combined per series at least.

    My recommendations would be:
    -1984
    -To Kill a Mockingbird (lengthy court scene may bore you)
    -Animal Farm
    -If you enjoy detective novels, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie are good.
    -If you enjoy British humour, Discworld and P.G Wodehouse are beloved staples.
     
  5. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Yeah, I'd question what you're reading myself. Depression really does fuck with your enjoyment of things, though, so that's unfortunately understandable. I have a much easier time watching some trash tv show (well they're not all trash, but) than focusing on reading too, but you might try reading something a little less dense and dire than ASOIAF - think about enjoyment rather than quality. Something silly or pulpy, purposefully fun even if it's kinda bad, and probably shorter. I have a hard time keeping interest in a two-hour movie sometimes but at the same time I could watch eleven-minute cartoons or forty-five-minute shows back to back all day just because each chunk of entertainment is shorter, and that definitely translates into reading, too. Read short stories (and I'm not just saying that because I write them) and novellas. Or maybe it's just a matter of finding the genre/subgenre that really clicks with you, keeping in mind that the 'greats' of each genre might not be to your taste, and that doesn't mean the entire genre isn't.

    Anyway, I mean, the common wisdom is "you can't be a writer without being a reader" and there's some obvious sense to that. You learn the craft by observing and studying it. I wouldn't try to build a chair from scratch without at least looking up some youtube videos on the topic first, hahah. You can still be a storyteller without being a reader, though. You might consider a path other than novels - look into writing a script or a graphic novel or a webcomic or something. I love books but what I'd really love is to write for games because the medium excites me more.

    I also think there's a lot to be said just for practice. Having read a lot gives you a great basis from which to start writing, but can you just jump into writing and figure it out as you go? Probably. I'm not the avid reader I was when I was younger, but my writing has definitely improved since the reading rate dropped off sheerly through practice. I'd advise you to try incredibly hard to find something you like reading, but if you really love writing I'm not gonna tell you you can't do it. You can find a way.
     
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  6. Zyzles
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    Zyzles New Member

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    Alright, thanks for your suggestions :D
     
  7. Zyzles
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    Zyzles New Member

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    Hmmm... You do raise some interesting points, and I may very well consider going to something shorter. It does pain me however, I really love Game of Thrones (the series) and so often thought I want to read the books. I'm not arguing against you, but the annoying thing is that previously when reading A Game of Thrones I have often very much enjoyed it. Yet it seems to be that after a certain length of time I just seem to get distracted, my mind wonders onto.. Well depressive things.

    But you raise a good point with a TV series, I genuinely find it much easier to be absorbed in a good series than a book. And that's the thing, I can literally be absorbed in a series like some people are with books. And I'll (ironically) read up about it online, follow pages/blogs about it on social media, talk about it etc. Ironically considering Game of Thrones (TV), I have spent long amounts of time reading the Wiki about it, learning about the histories of characters and Kingdoms, ans listening to the podcasts. So it really came as a shock when I cannot get into the book. And wonder if depression is really the cause as it does just seem to enter my mind and I cannot get absorbed into the world of Westeros.

    Maybe you are right though, and I'll start off with some less dense content. I do have The Hobbit with me, and from what I have heard, it's basically a much simplified Lord of the Rings (although obviously a different story). Perhaps I should start with that?
     
  8. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum, Zyzles. How did you come up with that name?

    *aherm*

    I can't seem to find enough fucks to ever pick up a book, but I think my writing holds its own just fine. Feel free to nitpick my workshop entries, it will actually help you grow as a writer yourself. :-D

    Honestly, it's fine if you don't like to read others' work. We all have our own unique ways of doing things. What you should really be concerned about is, are you writing the story you want to write? Is it meeting its own goal?

    Personally I would recommend trying your hand at critique. Reviewing the work of others (rather than simply consuming it) really does open your eyes to your own style, and that allows you to see where your strengths and weaknesses are in a more engaged, active way.

    Also we do have a couple threads on mental illness,

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/mental-illness-how-do-you-cope.142379/

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/mental-health-support-thread.143946/

    so feel free to jump in.

    Hope I helped! :-D
     
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  9. Zyzles
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    Zyzles New Member

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    Hello Imaginarily (nice name yourself lol), came up from Zyzles by shortening Zylorarchy, I name I use for a game I play. How I came up with that? I literally made it up, I just seem to be good at making up words, which I need to do for my stories (naming planets, aliens and such).

    Anyway thanks for your reply, and reassurance that I can write without reading. Sadly I really do want to be able to read again, but it seems I can't really. I briefly looked over your links (I'll look in more detail but dinner is cooking and what not) and I can say I have similar issues to what users post there, about anxiety. I cannot simply read anymore and lose my mind in a book. Rather, I'll be reading, but half my mind is taken up by anxiety itself (mainly worrying about whether I am enjoying the book or not, hence I don't truly know whether I am). Of course when not reading my anxiety tends to be about much more serious things.

    Again, I can't right now but will look over your stuff at some point. How long is it? Izzybot said about starting out with shorter stuff as opposed to hugely long and dense material, maybe I can work my way back up to reading proper stuff again that way.

    Thanks for your reply :D
     
  10. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Ohhhh I gotcha. I must have misread some of your post. My bad! n.n; @izzybot is probably the one to listen to, then.

    My longest entry is just over 1600 words. No rush, no pressure. Just if curiosity strikes you. :whistle:
     
  11. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    You may want to have your depression dealt with professionally if you haven't already. I don't want to pry into your affairs, but if it impairs you that much...
     
  12. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I haven't read The Hobbit myself, so I can't really say if it's the kind of thing I'd recommend :x But I know it's a lot shorter than LOTR so hey maybe.

    You might look into sf/f magazines you can buy online! They're usually pretty inexpensive and that way you get to read a nice little collection of shorts from different writers with different voices, there are frequently some shorts available for free on their sites, and sometimes they publish podcasts too. That brings up audiobooks, actually - can you focus well on them? That could be a way to expose yourself to prose without actually reading.
     
  13. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    The Hobbit is a children's novel though.

    And you can always find some great literature such as Macbeth free online since everything pre-1900 isn't copyrighted (as far as I'm aware!)
     
  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I see everyone discussing sci-fi or fantasy but why limit yourself to one genre? I don't write romance or mysteries - but I like reading them. I also like reading nonfiction - like bio's and true crime. And there's also short story collections that are fun when you haven't got much time.
     
  15. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Three of my suggestions were literature, two were crime/detective, one satire and one comedy.
     
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  16. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    Shit, you remind me a lot of what I've been going through. I'm also a guy who suffers from depression and anxiety. At times, I feel as though mild agoraphobia knocks at the door as well. Fire And Ice is also the wording I prefer and commonly mistake using for 'A Song Of Ice And Fire'.

    I also can't get myself to read often, but the only way I can is to FORCE myself like it's a chore. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to understand what I'm saying here, but if you don't force yourself to read, you probably won't do much reading. I know because I have thousands of distractions a day and I have to make it a routine. It's never on my list of "top things to do when I'm bored". My girlfriend, listening to music, revisiting The X Files, retro-gaming, phone-calls to my cousin, watching boxing, stuffing my face, continue to take up my day. By the time I say to myself, "Damn, I should read that one book I'm 4% into", it's already time to go to bed. And of course what I'm saying is just to you, because I have the same mental illnesses and I just can't sit and read like everyone else. I need to discipline myself and make it a job.

    I didn't grow up being an avid reader. Eventually, my obsession with sword & sorcery pulled me out of what I was doing at the time. With some research, I began looking up book suggestions for aspiring fantasy authors, etc. Shortly after, my closet was stacked with books. I've read about 3 out of 50 so far. If something you're reading isn't doing it for you at the moment, try to read something that might. Even if it's a kinky little short-story you can download for free on amazon. Reading is reading. My girlfriend turned me on to some Paranormal Romance. I hear the moans and groans already, I know. Not many people on here like those books and I understand why, but they're so fucking easy to consume. So easy, that I can read them half asleep, before I go to bed. Eventually though, conquer whatever books you set yourself out to read. There's nothing like having an arsenal of knowledge.

    Try changing the kind of material you're trying to read. It seems like you're chasing these highly-acclaimed classics. The Lord Of The Rings is awesome and you suck(JK), but you don't have to read it. You should step away from the classics and find something that entertains you and isn't an overly detailed trilogy of boredom.

    If you don't want to read anything original, try something historical. Maybe it'll work for character background or world-building. Just try different things.
     
  17. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Novels have a certain dimension that movies or shows don't have, and this is internality. Sure, there are movies or shows with moments where a character reflects or breaks the fourth wall to address the viewer, but those are a rarity. On screen, the only medium to convey emotion would be through the actor's expressions and dialogue. In novels, you get a peek inside a character's mind, get to see what they're thinking, what they're reminiscing about, what other stuff is bubbling inside their brain.

    I like this part of novels, and I feel like this is what makes novels unique and intimate. We are drawn in at the basest moment of a character: their thoughts. Even if it were in 3rd person, the POV would sometimes lend us a moment of a character's thoughts. A great author will make you feel what a character is experiencing as they walk through an empty airport terminal, where their footsteps echo in the cavernous station, each one heightening their dread.

    Another reason why I love novels is that it's mysterious. The only info you get are either blurbs, a friend's recommendation or both. There's no trailer that spoils some of the plot points. You go in blind, and that in itself is an adventure.

    I think you need to choose the right books or novels to read. I recommend titles that have not been turned into movies or TV shows. Also, there are novels out there that are hard to adapt into movies or shows. Sometimes, an adaptation would gut a novel just so it could stand on its own as a movie or show. One I can think of is House of Leaves; the format on that book alone is untranslatable to the screen.

    ----

    Anyway, if novels aren't your thing, that's fine. You can still write, but your selected medium would be TV or movie scripts. But there are still benefits to reading a novel even if you're a scriptwriter.
     
  18. Mordred85
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    Mordred85 Active Member

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    Watching a movie and reading a script will be a completely different experience as well. You don't know what you're talking about. I know movie fanatics who can't sit to read 2 pages of a film script. It doesn't exactly flow in a structure that is easy to grasp like the visual representation of it on the screen.
     
  19. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Sorry if I was unclear, but what I meant is that their medium for writing would be scripts for TV and/or movies.
     
  20. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    My sister harps on me sometimes for the same reason---she says I don't read nearly enough. One of my excuses is that I'd like to keep my characters in my head, because if another strong story/set of characters come(s) along, it distracts me from mine and can sometimes derail things completely. I think you can write without being a reader, but I'm not sure what skill level you'd be at without studying some geniuses. (says the person with very mediocre skill and very low reading volume)
     
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  21. MichaelP
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    MichaelP Active Member

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    Ready Player One is an incredible novel. I literally could not put it down.

    But, yes, if you don't read, you'll be a bad writer. That's just how it goes. If you haven't found any interesting books, then you're saying that you've never been exposed to interesting books, which means that you don't know how to write interestingly.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a bit surprised that you can't get into Game of Thrones. The strength of those books is the characters and the world; the writing is merely good enough, not great. It's not very engaging. And the constant shift to new characters yanks you out of the story, and then forces you to dive in again.

    So you shouldn't judge your ability to read books by your ability to read those books. I would suggest trying more books. Lots more books. Do they need to be fantasy, or are you mainly trying fantasy because the ones that worked so far were fantasy?

    Re The Hobbit, it is much more readable than Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. It's still fairly dense; if you don't like it, don't give up. Just move on to something less dense.

    Can you put words to your issues with The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe? That might guide other suggestions.
     
  23. TkTish
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    TkTish Member

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    Have you tried reading fan fiction for Harry Potter? Fan fiction in general can be very hit or miss in quality, but there can be some very shiny gems if you look hard and long enough. Hell, maybe even try reading original fiction on Archive of Our Own or FictionPress. There's short stories and epic novels of all different genres. Again, it might take some work to find something both interesting and well-written, but I know there's stuff out there (I've read a lot of it myself).

    As for your main question... I personally think you need to read a lot to be able to write well. But this is also coming from someone who is always reading something (I'd much rather read than watch TV). Is it a hard and fast rule? Maybe not. Just do what you do and then seek feedback on your work! Others will tell you what you need to improve on/change/etc.
     
  24. Ziggy.
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    Ziggy. Member

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    I think writing is a core muscle that cannot live without the art of reading. It would be like saying "I'm a film director but I hate watching movies." When you read, your mind simultaneously learns the craft and setup of how the writer has set the book. You don't understand it on a conscious level but if you continue to read, it helps your writing tremendously. It's as if your mind will see certain parts of a book be it punctuation, story, how characters are shown across chapters, or how description is made. If you just constantly write without seeing how others do it, it will mean your style will go more minimal or wither as opposed to some writers that have read, studied, and improved thanks to reading different styles and getting a feel for what makes their own work great.
     

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