1. Hannibal Alexander
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    Hannibal Alexander Senior Member

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    So, If I don't really like reading...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hannibal Alexander, Jan 28, 2013.

    ... would you tell me that my dream of being a writer is basically dead?

    i've often heard... to be a great writer you have to love reading.

    and i like the IDEA of novels, but in my lifetime there have only been like a handful of books that i read that really held my attention. otherwise, if it's a book i have to read for school it's like a pain the whole time to finish it. or if it's a book i randomly buy and it doesn't grab the first few chapters i'm done.

    does that REALLY cancel me out of being a writer?
    i get why people say you have to love reading in order to be a good writer, but ... i guess i don't know what i'm asking anymore. it just kinda bummed me out because it would make sense that none of my writing has taken off or done anything because i'm probably no good at it because i don't read enough.

    um... this went from a post to a venting session. but i'm curious to know what you guys think about this idea that to be a great writer you have to love reading?

    (and ... if i do love movies, than i should be set as a screenwriter? right?)
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think that's pretty uncontroversial. I don't understand how anyone could want to write when they don't like reading. In reading you learn your craft, what to do and what not to do. It would be like a film maker not liking to watch films, or a musician not really being much interested in music.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd say reading and writing go hand in hand. Sorry to say, but if you don't like reading novels, I have to question whether you have what it takes to be a good novelist.

    Maybe you're just reading the wrong type of novels. Look at the novels you've liked and see if you can find something common between them. I understand that not everyone likes the books assigned in school.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    You do need to read in order to become a good writer. But don't despair.
    It's not like you have to read Jane Austen, or Dickens in order to become a good one. You just have
    to find your reading niche. What genres do you like? branch out some, read some short stories in
    magazines or poetry even check out some non-fiction. Sounds like you're trying too hard to
    read what you think a writer should read. Just find something you like. Even if it's just
    articles in magazines.

    If you don't read, you're writing will show it. I don't think it will cancel you out as a writer
    it will cancel you out from becoming a good writer. Think of it this way - does a guitarist
    who wants to make music grit his teeth at listening to other peoples songs. Nope.
    He finds his niche.

    Also even if you love movies, that won't make you a screewriter. Since it's
    almost all conversation it can actually be harder, as most new writers already
    struggle with bringing their characters to life.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.
     
  6. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Yes it is dead. As a writer, you have to read your own material, and read others in order to learn and get better. Reading and writing go hand in hand for a reason
     
  7. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Switch over to magazines.

    When my interest in literature wanes, I still go with my wife to B&N. She reads books, and I hit the magazine rack.

    Even if the rags I pick are just of the hobbyist variety, it shows me newer things in the industry, invites debate and gets my juices flowing.

    I also make sure I read the newspaper every morning. I've heard that some politicians and top execs sometimes read three or four morning newspapers. And the older you get the more important it is to stay connected.
     
  8. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    You said that you've read only a handful of books that held your attention. So you do like reading, you just need to find the books that you like. By being able to appreciate reading it doesn't mean you have to be able to read every single book that's ever published, especially the boring ones that you have to trudge through in class. You just have to keep on searching for the books that you like.
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm wondering how old you are, since you mention books you have to read for school. Perhaps it's just that you haven't yet found what you like? Many people don't like the books they're assigned to read for school. Sometimes this is because they aren't relevant to the reader's background and interests. Sometimes the book just doesn't speak to the reader. And sometimes the reader just isn't quite ready yet to really understand the book's message. I recently re-read a classic novel for my book club, and I can't tell you the number of people who stated that they'd read it in high school and hated it, but after reading it with "more mature eyes" they enjoyed it and appreciated it on a whole new level.

    It can be as important, or more important to read books that are in the genre and comparable to the books you want to write. So, I suggest that you keep trying. Bookstores (and book websites) are huge places. You're bound to find a lot that you'll like.
     
  10. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Ballgamer, I'll go with you 95% of the way on that opinion.

    Some books and magazines are as tepid as dishwater, but the facts, the science and the information is valuable.

    If you think this guy might be bored, go over to YouTube and search out "Japanese knife and sword polishing." If you get insomnia some night, I guarantee rubbing stuff with a wet rock will put you under in minutes!

    But the knowledge there is +800 years old, and is as valid now as then.

    As I've stated, I'm waist deep into "Angelology." It's like digesting garlic cough medicine laced with broken glass. But it has information I need, so you grin and bear it.

    Sooner or later I'm going to have to face 'Angels and Demons' and 'Fifty Shades.' I'm picking up a new bottle of Don Julio just for the pain.
     
  11. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I agree with Peach, reading is important but you just have to find what you enjoy.

    I struggle to finish books that don't grab me early on too. If you haven't already I'd recommend trying a site like goodreads, where you can find out what people who like those books you did enjoy, also like - I bet you'll find some gems if you do a little hunting :) Also, if novels weigh you down you could always try short stories, I've read a couple of cheapie short story anthologies recently (my favourite genre is noir/hardboiled type stuff so there's plenty available!) and really liked them.

    Overall, I'd say its worth putting the effort in to make sure you read, but don't suffer over a particular book/genre you don't enjoy. Best of luck :D
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you don't like novels, why would you want to write one? If you don't like music, why would you learn to play a musical instrument? If you don't like art, why take up painting?

    We read because we love to, and we write to add to the collection of books we would like to read. I think the reading-writing link is primarily motivation. Reading motivates us to write. The fact that reading also teaches us to write is a bonus.

    I suppose it's possible to learn to write well without reading much, but it would be very, very difficult, and learning to write well is difficult enough even if you do read lots.

    I guess I'm just wondering why you want to write if you don't much like reading.
     
  13. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I'm wondering if his current displeasure is just yin and yang, and we caught him on a "down" cycle.
     
  14. PenTrotter
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    PenTrotter Member

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    If you like reading (you dont need to like evry novel, but you still have to read) at any minority, then tjats fine. As long as you read. You should try to read more though.
     
  15. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    I'm not disparaging the value of books they make you read in school, just that I believe the act of forcing classic literature in the school curriculum has given students the false pretense that they don't like reading because they don't like reading the books in school. I felt the same way my entire life until two years ago. Now I actually do enjoy those classic literature books, two of them my favorite of all time, One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest and Catcher in the Rye.

    I'm just trying to synchronize with the OP here. I've always wanted to be a writer myself but felt this reading barrier that stood in front of me, until I read Game of Thrones and gobbled up that 1000 page book in four days. That was my door to reading novels, and it was a year after that that I've come to enjoy the two books I mentioned before. I believe to appreciate reading we need that gateway novel to tie us in into the world of novels.
     
  16. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    There we agree 100%.

    But I'm beginning to sound like my Dad here. He always asked me to "try" a new vegetable before I stated I hated it.

    Oh, he was right, it just galled me to admit it!

    There is lots of literature out there that might appear bland, but there are classics that justly earned the name. I just prime the pump.

    I find a magazine or a trashy popular book, essentially chewing gum for the mind and I dive in. In a few weeks I'm reading something of value.

    Besides, you'll never know when you'll have to debate a guy more well read than yourself! ;)
     
  17. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Well maybe you should first ask yourself why do you want to be a writer?

    As for books you might be just picky as your not sure what you like, but that's ok, i'm picky too i know which types i hate, which i dont like and which am not really interested in... but its good to know what you dont like in order to get a better picture of what you really like and want.

    And even if i dont like a lot of stuff my library has over 4000 novels and i keep adding more to it and curse my job for taking so much of my time which i would rather read than work...
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would say your desire to do anything with your writing is, indeed, dead if you don't like reading. Your stories will no doubt be filled with all the cliches, poor phrasing, purple prose, plot holes, etc etc that marks poor writing. Why? Because you haven't experienced how it's done. You haven't let your imagination delve into a book and blossom. You haven't seen what has been done and how.

    Maybe you haven't found the types of books you like. The only way to solve that is to try more books, different genres, different authors. It's like food - you don't know what you like until you've tasted a variety.
     
  19. spartan928
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    spartan928 Member

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    I'm in my infancy as a writer. I've read voraciously for over 30 years and I figured writing would come easy. It didn't. Every aspect of the craft has to be learned and developed just like any skill. But the backbone of developing my own writing skills has been the writing of other people. I get to see first hand how excellent dialogue flows. How a plot ascends and descends. How I come to love or hate a character. Your trying to build a car without ever opening the hood or sitting behind the wheel and feeling the road hum and vibrate beneath your feet. To be engrossed in something you read allows you the sense of what you would want your readers to feel. Reading should be a visceral experience and I think the only way you can develop that skill yourself is to experience it firsthand through the writing of others.
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    No. I don't like reading. I read, a bit at a time, and do enjoy a page or two of a book, but that's usually all I can stand. I've had a reasonable amount of success and know that I can write. My creative writing has been praised at an academic, critical and commercial level. I've been published and produced (feature film). Reading is useful, and not being a reader does go against both convention and logic, but it's not essential. Books just take soooo long for me to read (I use internal monologue, ugh!) and I lose interest very quickly. At least movies and music are over pretty quick. But then again, I spend years on a novel. Go figure.

    It's annoying, however, when people preach that you have to read and you can't write well without being a dedicated bookworm. This is simply not true. I know it goes against 'logic' but what works for some is different for others. Or worse, when people suggest that if you don't like reading why on earth would you want to write? Well, I've always been a writer and never a reader. Why? I don't know and, frankly, I don't care. I'm good at it, I enjoy it, I have a need for it. Reading is time consuming and I'd rather be writing.

    My advice to the OP: if you don't like reading whole books, keep reading the bits of books. I read many bits of books, from various genres, and that does me enough to get the required 'reading' out of the way. Pacing and plots aside, of coarse.
     
  21. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Would it be too far off the mark to try to substitute "books on tape" for reading?

    Some people listen them on the treadmill or steps at the gym, and my wife and I used to play them on long trips.

    Would that stimulate interest in literature?

    Edit: @cogito, you are on my ignore list.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's about more than stimulating an interest in literature.

    A writer needs to know what works and what doesn't. Literature is an art that has developed over centuries, and trying to independently develop it in a vacuum is a fool's errand.

    Certainly, audio books can convey some of what a writer needs to know, but punctuation, capitalization, and usage present subtleties not revealed through listening alone. How could you expect to know that expressions like "a moot point" and "strait jacket" are correct, and not "a mute point" and "straight jacket?" Or that you build a "web site" rather than a "web sight?"

    Too much of successful writing requires an attention to details too easily overlooked in an audio medium. It's difficult enough for writers who do read extensively.
     
  23. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Because reading is passive and writing is active. And by that I mean, reading is boring and writing is fun.

    I once had a girlfriend departing on a long bus trip and all she had was an empty pad of paper and a pen. When someone asked what it was for she replied: 'That's my entertainment.'
     
  24. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Attempting to engage in any medium without exposing yourself to the works of others makes you vulnerable to the same faults as Amanda McKittrick Ros: A woman who exemplifies self-centred ignorance in an author.

    Try googling "worst novelist in history" and see for yourself.

    Now, with regards to the efficacy of a writer reading: Why are you writing?

    Your success as a writer depends on your objectives and the degree to which you accomplish those objectives depends on your abilities in the relevant fields. Writing for yourself is dead easy: You just write. That's it. Writing for others? Well, you need to consider others' needs, don't you? That's what other authors attempt to do, at any rate.

    Take a look at the books you've actually read without effort. What do they have in common? Not all books are alike and while it limits your scope, you don't have to read every book of every genre. Books - like film, music and everything else - can be and are tailored to their target audience.

    If you want to write fast-paced action books with aliens and guns, take a leaf out of Matt Reilly's library.
    An intelligent woman with a modern mindset stuck in backwards times? Jane Austen.
    Self-aware, tongue-in-cheek comedy? Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

    There's no point in you writing in a style that you don't enjoy reading, mostly because your readership will be able to tell within less than a page that your heart isn't in it. Books are to the writer as a whetstone is to a blade: You severely limit your own effectiveness by ignoring the past successes and failures of those who have come before and it is dead obvious - dead obvious - when a writer is clumsily aping the most obvious of staples in a given genre. I wouldn't dream of writing a CSI novel without first understanding how crime scene investigations actually work and how they are publicly perceived based on currently existing examples. I would be destined to fail at writing a wild western if I wasn't aware of exactly what it was that constituted a good tale in the wild west. And I certainly wouldn't style myself as a fantasy author without the slightest awareness of the fantastical.

    On the other hand, if you're not interested in "good" writing (an elusive concept at best), don't bother yourself with the research and whatnot. If audience engagement isn't important to you, then the tools with which it is achieved are worthless and it's perfectly possible to trip into financial success despite appalling writing standards.

    Amanda stands as a testament to that.
     
  25. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is your goal in writing? If you want to write as a hobby, rather than a career goal, then write all you wish. If you want to take a shot at becoming a published writer you are going to need to follow the advice others have posted here. Try exploring a genre you're interested in. Look for indie publishers online rather than just picking up what books you see in your local bookstore.



    As someone who does write for the screen (not a professional - although I'm currently working on several productions for a commercial company), I would not recommend simply treating it as an "alternative" to writing a novel. When writing for the screen you are still in the position of needing to provide descriptions of directions, settings, characters, dialogue, etc. You still need to write powerfully enough to convey what you see in your mind to the production crew. You also need to be aware of the same character/storytelling techniques and pitfalls that a novelist is expected to know. I find reading fiction just as beneficial to my screen work as my novel writing.

    Keep in mind that screenwriting is also very technical - it's not just about telling the story. You need to be able to understand and use: the industry format for screenwriting; shot types and what they are used to convey; the industry jargon; anchorage; etc. Plus there are other things to consider once you move outside of just physically writing the piece - but this isn't the place to go into them. PM me if you want more information.
     

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