1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I like to write, not read

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, Apr 10, 2014.

    I was having a conversation the other day - offline, with real people, face to face. It was weird - concerning 'literature.' Most of us didn't like reading that much, the classics much, much less. A couple names that kept coming up under truly enjoyable reads were Tolkien and McMurtry. I admit the only book (Old Man and the Sea excluded for length) I have read more than once was authored by Louis L'Amour.

    The truth was, between four aspiring writers, was that we don't love reading other people's stories that much. We prefer to tell the tales. If you were to catch one of us reading, it would more than likely be short stories. The question came up if any of us could be successful without the passion for reading. We concluded that, by all means, a story teller can exist separate from the story reader.

    Opinions?
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I think so. The idea reminds me of the old men sitting outside the local barber shop telling stories. Many times they don't pay attention to what other's have to say, and will interrupt with their own stories all day long. Some people are writers, and some are story tellers.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Reading is a requirement for being a good writer. In fact, the one piece of advice all great authors have given is to read a lot.
     
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  4. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Who did the first good author read?
     
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  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Bad authors.
     
  6. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    There could be some sort of mutual exclusivity, I suppose. That is, one could possess the ability to read (and write) and never, or very rarely, read other author's works but why the hell would you want to deprive yourself of the vast abundance of great literary work that is available? It takes a special sort of arrogance to brazenly disregard the rich variety of literature that has been produced in the world, even in the last two hundred years. Personally, I wish I had the time and wherewithall to read more than I do, though there wouldn't be enough time in anyone's life to get through it all.
    The only way to get good at this craft is to read, write, read, write ad infinitum.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  7. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I like to fish but I don't watch fishing shows.
     
  8. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's obviously got to be a balance, you can't be just reading in all your 'spare' time but I think it's important to always have one book on the go. A kind of cyclical continuity. I write and I commit time to writing but I read at the same time. I suppose it's like the analogy of a lumberjack cutting down a tree but replacing it with a sapling.
    It's a double edged sword, you either read something and are inspired and want to emulate it or you read something and you are aghast at the quality of it, are sure you can better it and are galvanised and determined to do so.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Learning what not to do is important as well, so we can always learn something from reading bad writers.
     
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  10. ChloeALR
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    ChloeALR New Member

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    I always argue that reading really helps stimulate the mind and therefore can help in the writing process. Personally, I love reading. But each to their own!
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This question comes up from time to time. Can one write well if one doesn’t read?

    Of course, the answer is yes, but it’s very unlikely. I’m sure somebody out there somewhere has written a classic without reading much first, but they won the lottery. If you want to write well – well enough to be paid for it – you pretty much have to read, read (or at least have read) quite a bit, and read good writing.

    There’s more than one question here. Of course, one can easily write a grammatically-correct sentence without being a reader. Also, one can invent a good story without being a reader (note that I’m restricting this discussion to reading – it’s unlikely you can invent a good story without knowing what one is, so if you don’t read, you should at least watch movies or TV shows or listen to storytellers, etc.). But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the ability to transfer the story in your head to paper, in the form of a novel or a short story, without reading novels or short stories.

    The human mind learns by observation and imitation. That’s how we all start out as babies – we imitate our parents and other people around us. We learn to play musical instruments by listening to others play them and trying to get that same sound. We learn to dance by watching others dance. In other words, we need models.

    Once we master our models, though, we are, of course, inspired to better them, to go beyond them. Most of us are ambitious that way.

    If we stop reading in elementary school, our models of literature are what we read in elementary school. We’ll master those models. We’ll become adept at writing children’s books. We may strive to go beyond them, but that will take us (probably) to young-adult books – books high-school kids read.

    To write the best literature we’re capable of, we need to read the best literature that’s out there, so that we know what it looks like; we have to know how it feels. We have to know what effects can be achieved, what vocabulary can be used, what structures (sentence and story) can be used. We have to know how deep we can go into character, and great characters teach us this. We have to know how rich we can make our settings, how powerful our symbols can be, and so on. We learn these things by reading the best literature out there.

    How can we know if we run fast if we don’t race others? We need to have someone leave us in the dust before we realize how fast a person can run.

    That’s why writers – ambitious writers – need to read. If we don’t read, we’re local guys just out for an easy jog around the block. If we do read, and read the best literature we can find, we’re competing in the Olympics.

    The question of whether or not you need to read in order to write is really a question of how good you want to become.
     
  12. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Kind of hard to do when all you read is published authors. Somebody thought they were good enough somewhere.
     
  13. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Its about striking a balance of what to do, I do read, not as much as id like (as i write a lot) but i try and emulate those who i have read that i like (ie JRR Tolkein, Christopher Paolini, Markus Heitz, George RR Martin) i enjoy epic fantasy novels, and am aspiring to write to that length. i did find this image below while trawling through lots of writing blogs on tumblr which i feel is pretty accurate as well

    Inspiration.jpg
     
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  14. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    It's kind of hard to articulate my thoughts passing by my office five minutes at a time, but I don't want this to go to far into the "reading sucks" direction my OP may present.

    As stated above, most of us are only exposed to published literature. How can you say learn from the bad, when the bad is successful. Somewhere somebody (even on these boards) loves Confederacy of Dunces. That book pisses me off enough to punch a nun. Just thinking about being forced to read that in high school raises my blood pressure.

    "So don't write like that," you say.

    That's not the same as saying learn from the bad. Are you insinuating Toole is a "bad" author, or I just don't like his style. I did not have to read CoD to know I would hate a book like that.

    Another talking point that came up through the steam of our over-priced joe was originality. Are you your own author or are you a sum of other people's parts? What is your perspective on originality? I believe that if somebody in Djibouti and I come up with the same idea with no connection to each other, they are both original thoughts. If we create caped super heroes because we both saw Dark Night, that is not original.
     
  15. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    E.L. James?
    There are countless others as I'm sure you are aware.
    Publishers know what will sell and what the masses will (may?) buy. That's their business. It doesn't necessarily equate to good literature.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  16. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    they do generally say that books are based off of one of 7 different premises (of which i dont know, but as a A-Level Lit Student we were expected to know this)
     
  17. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know that you necessarily need to enjoy reading the classics or books that are considered great literature. But there should be some sort of books that you enjoy -- maybe you just haven't found too many? Do you not enjoy novels of the type that you enjoy writing?
     
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  18. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    It might be like baseball. You could find it boring to watch, but enjoy playing on the weekends with a group of friends. However, you most likely won't be a professional baseball player unless you like it enough to watch the professionals play. Or, in other words, the type of person who becomes a professional, loves both aspects of the game (watching and doing).
     
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  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Garball

    Stop being lazy dude just read
     
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  20. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    He's a cook and doesn't even read recipes.
     
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  21. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Depends on the form of literature you're talking about. Someone can spin together a good tall tale, creepypasta, shocktale, memoir, tell-all, investigative piece, essay, technical writing, poem or any other myriad forms of writing without being a master of the classics or even a regular comic book subscriber. To write a modern style novel that will be taken seriously by Very Important People? No. For that you would need to read a lot to grasp what the trends were and are.
     
  22. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I love to read. I'll go on book binges. Unfortunately, I don't seem to have the time to write and read. I usually do one exclusively. Actually I almost fear writing and reading at the same time, because then I'm afraid the author I'm reading will influence my writing too much. Or I'll start making comparisons between my book and what I'm reading, and when I make comparisons, they're never in my favor. It's almost better for my self-esteem if I don't read while I write.

    But yes, I agree with many others that reading is important for a writer.
     
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  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'll admit this: I don't read as much now as I did earlier in my life. I was a voracious reader until I was about forty or so, and life got very busy after that (not least with writing!). But I believe reading a lot when you're a kid trains you better than reading the same amount when you're an adult. When your mind is relatively empty and malleable, what you read has more of an effect on it. Once you've stocked it up with real life, reading the same amount doesn't teach you as much.

    That's my theory, anyway. I have no actual data to back it up. :p
     
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  24. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    You know the rules. If you can't link to a study that supports your beliefs, they don't count.
     
  25. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I just can't think of anybody I've read that has any influence on the way I write.
     

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