1. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    How should one read his own work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ghosts in Latin, Feb 22, 2009.

    Of course, objectively, but... moreso in terms of mindset. Does anyone else find it difficult to read your own work as a new reader would? To put yourself in that mindset?

    I sometimes try to read my work as if I were someone reading it for the first time, and fear that my not curious immersion into a line of plot (as I would hope a new reader reacts) is a sign of fault in my writing.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about my plot, and passionate about my writing as an author, and creator, but how should I react to it when attempting to be a reader?

    Is it possible, or wishful thinking in my attempt to sustain a double persona who know the same things? Perhaps it is neither, and I'm just bad at writing.

    Do any of you have the same problem?
     
  2. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I suspect that many people are going to answer in this manner:

    If you want to read your work objectively, then write it out, wait a few weeks (at least) and then read it.

    You'll undoubtedly read it objectively automatically. You'll either nod your head, thinking, "Wow, this is pretty good! I'm a decent writer," or you'll shake your head, laughing, "Wow, this is bad! How did I make this many mistakes?"

    This will reveal how much you have grown as a writer, as well.

    I'd like to read some of your writing, some time. If you ever have anything you want a fresh set of eyes to scan, then give me a holler! (PMs or otherwise)
     
  3. Paul_V
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    Paul_V Member

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    It helps to become emotionally detached to your writing. Pretend that you didn't write it, that this comes from another person. Try and erase everything you already know about your writing from your mind before you read it. You might need to do some yoga, meditation or bash your head with a brick first. Whatever works. ;)

    You should also try to gather as much reviewing experience as you can. Review other people's writings, read other people's reviews to other people's writings, etc. You should pick up techniques and concepts with time and practice. Then, it's all a matter of applying them to your own work. If you develop a reviewing method, it'll be easy and mechanical to use it for your own writing.
     
  4. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I read my own work as if it were me, not somebody else. If I want objectivity I have friend and family I can go to. To remove yourself from your work is futile IMO.

    Spend the energy on improving the piece not divorcing yourself from it.
     
  5. DownUnder
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    DownUnder Contributing Member

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    I do that sometimes. Maybe because the mind reads it as text written by oneself if read after a short time, but if one leaves it for a while they'll come back and read it as objective? Though I don't like spending time away from an idea, so I sometimes just try to detach myself from it as mentioned.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    The only way I can approach my work as a "new reader" would is if I haven't read it in a very long time...months or years.

    I've had this happen. I write long serials, so it can be quite a while since I've last read over one of my older chapters. My current story has been ongoing since 2005. Sometimes when I go back and look at chapters I wrote months or years ago, I completely don't remember some of the stuff I wrote, and I even find myself laughing at jokes and being amazed and curious about what happens next (even though I know what happens, I sometimes don't remember how I worded it!). There's this feeling of "Holy crap, I wrote this??" (For me usually a good feeling--unless the work is REALLY old, then it's "Holy crap, I wrote this crap??" :redface: )

    I realize not everyone has the luxury of putting their writing away for months or years, but that's really the only way I can approach it as a new reader would. Lots of time and distance. It would take a really great ability to separate oneself from their writer mindset to be able to view their own work as a completely new reader would, when they've only just written it. As long as the writing is fresh in mind, I can't separate myself that well. (And this comes from somebody who's GOOD at putting herself in others' mindsets.)
     
  7. Aysel
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    Aysel New Member

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    I find its not so hard to read my own work but that could be for the reason thats its usually awhile before I get back to it and by this point have forgotton everything about the story I was writing. Although on the rare chance that doesn't happen I try to look at it like someone new and let the excitment I felt writing it come in the new form of reading it.
     
  8. bsd13
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    bsd13 Member

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    I have to wait several months before I can be somewhat objective about what I've written. I keep a couple of online blogs going and every few months I'll go through some old posts and reread and revise them. It's not pretty!

    With stories I find it best to write it, and give it to someone else to read. Often I don't even need to tell them I want some insight. They read it and come back and are more than happy to tell me all the flaws in it.
     
  9. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, ladies and gents.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't have that problem, but i tell all my writing mentees to read over their work not only as a stranger would, but as if they are their own worst enemy...
     
  11. best_fullback
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    best_fullback Member

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    I, like you, find it impossible to read my own work having just wrote it. I become so emotionally attached to what I am writing that I want to just write it all out as it comes.

    However I usually look at it after sleeping or a few days later and make substatial changes to what I have written because it'll be rubbish. I think at the end of the day you can only be your worst critic because if you're not happy with it, then would you be happy publishing it for people to read?

    My ethos is not to final draft anything until I myself would feel comfortable with someone else reading it.
     
  12. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The hardest part for me is reading my own writing like an editor. I find that if I set my story aside for a month or two and not think about it, then read it, I am able to find many errors and problems.

    I wish I could see my writing the way I see other's in that regard.
     
  13. Carpetony
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    Carpetony New Member

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    I tend to read my writing out loud. If it is hard to read or say certain phrases, then I usually tackle it right there on the spot, or make note of it and return to it.

    I grew up listening to OTR (old time radio), so I tend to get into reading my stuph aloud very much. I find for me that seems to work.

    Time away definitely helps, for typos I tend to read paragraph by paragraph backwards, that way I'm not involved in the storyline as much and can catch the 'two/to/too' or singular/plural verb types of typos easier.
     
  14. xmollyx
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    xmollyx Member

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    *Sigh*:(

    I've yet to perfect this, reading my own work. When I read it I'm overly-critical and just pay attention to typos. Of couse this isn't so bad because it's constructive, but when I re-read something of mine I'd rather pay attention to plot.

    My best method is leaving it alone for a month or so, that way I can I forget about it, then come back to the piece. Takes a while to do, but it's easiest.
     

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