1. gina
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    gina Member

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    Writer who didn't like to read, help?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by gina, Dec 7, 2015.

    I'm an aspiring writer but in the past didn't like to read. As a child I'd love to get lost in a book but as I grew older and problems with concentration and focus took hold my love for reading waned. I've notice writing is now hard for me and wonder if it's because I haven't read many books lately. In high school I excelled in English class and writing but as an adult lost that ability. It's painfully hard for me to write, it could also be because I suffer from depression and maybe cannot find enough words. I've also noticed in trying to write children's books I struggle with the plot. Maybe it's because I haven't read and not as familiar with a good story? Nonetheless I just started reading Twilight. It's an easier read and trying to introduce books back into my life. I want to be a writer. So what do you think, should writers be voracious readers and if they're not could it affect their ability to write a good story and express themselves?
     
  2. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's hard to be a voracious reader with the every day demands that weigh on us. But reading inspires. Writers should absolutely read. It's simply a matter of practice and shifting time. For example, a good friend gives up social media for 6 months during every new year. Instead, she brings books every where she goes, and when she would check her Facebook, she reads instead.
     
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  3. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    (Ps - I'm also an ENFP and I struggle with reading, too. My brain is everywhere all the time, so it's hard for me to focus.)
     
  4. gina
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    gina Member

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    Hello fellow ENFP! Yes, my mind races too!
     
  5. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    You don't have to read for hours on end but I never understood the writer that didn't like to read. Why are you asking people to read something you yourself wouldn't read you know? Or how do you expect to get better at something without "studying" it so to speak. I make goals for myself, i dont always stick to them but i fall among the stars. I try to read a new book every two weeks (I take long to read books). Maybe for you, start with reading a new book every month.
     
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  6. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I'm an INFP by the way.
     
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  7. R.P. Kraul
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    R.P. Kraul Member

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    Honestly, I don't read much modern fiction. I prefer older stuff and a lot of nonfiction.

    I guess it depends what you're after. If you want your writing to be accesible to modern readers, you ought to read a lot of modern fiction.
     
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  8. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    Depression may play a role in your having difficulty with writing, not just because you're not reading books. At least for me it did. I struggled with it myself and had no imagination or creative abilities during it. It also inhibited my ability to focus. It wasn't until I received some medical help through medication and counselling - which are personal decisions, and I'm not endorsing them. The psychiatrist suggested that I keep a journal about my depressed feelings and ironically, that's what helped me to start writing again.

    It's true reading does inspire us, but sometimes writing can inspire us too. For instance, if you were to start writing a journal about how you feel, maybe on a particularly bad day. Then, on a better day, read what you wrote and try to think how you would console a person with those feelings and write that down. (This wasn't something the psychiatrist suggested, but something I tried myself... which is hard to do on a bad day.) After a few journal entries, you may start thinking about how a different person who wasn't depressed would react and then you start the writing juices flowing. I found that thinking outside your own brain, pretending to be a different person sometimes helps. Writing doesn't always have to be a straight out story. It could be a journal, or just brainstorming ideas and/or characters.

    Once you start the creative juices flowing, you will slowly see your imagination (the one that you had as a kid) has not been lost, just supressed by the stresses of adult life.

    Don't pressure yourself to think of a plot, (I say this although I have at times done it myself, so hypocritically, I know how much easier it is to say it than to do it), but start with small writing exercises like the ones I suggested, or other ones and your plot ideas will start growing on their own.

    To be perfectly honest, I know reading does contribute to a good writer, but at the same time, I struggle with it as well, as I'm always afraid to accidentally "steal" ideas from a book, rather than be inspired by ideas. I like to come up with my own ideas, which is a lot harder, but I try to write something everyday (even random thoughts, or comments on a forum) and my ideas eventually come to me.

    Hope that helps, and I hope you soon will have sunnier days!
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  9. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    I struggled with that test but I think I'm an INFP or INTJ, or INFJ? Is not knowing for sure a sign that you're a specific type, lol?
     
  10. gina
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    It's good to know my creativity has only been suppressed because as a youth I was super creative. I'll try journaling as well, that's a great idea.
     
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  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Like you, I've also noticed that it's harder for me to write when I haven't been reading. It's kind of strange how that works. (In fact, the common advice most famous writers give is to read a lot.) So the obvious thing to do is to pick something up and start reading. It doesn't matter what it is. Also, force yourself to sit down and write something once a day. It doesn't have to be anything good. Heck, you can even write about how you have nothing to write about. This just forces you to get a routine going. Good luck.
     
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  12. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I do not read much fiction material and consequentially my interests have come to span many fields with lots of knowledge. Many of the works of fiction I read are terribly uninteresting to me and most do not gain my full attention. When I commit to a task, the simple goal is to reach it even if it means dedicating a large amount of time and thought to it. Still, I produce a good amount of work and I do not give up easily. That is probably more important than anything else.
     
  13. sidtvicious
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    Since it's a concentration, and possibly time issue. I'd suggest starting small. Maybe poetry, shorty stories? Build up to novellas, novels, and big books. Reading is a muscle, got to build it up. Alternatively, considered audio books? Maybe switch between auditory and visual, or do both at once. Sometimes changing the medium can help with distraction.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not familiar with the symptoms of depression but I think lack of reading as a grown up could definitely affect your ability to write. Think of a musician who doesn't like listening to music... doesn't that sound a little odd? Or a filmmaker who never watch movies? Maybe it's possible to not read while you're actually writing something, but in between writing projects I think the writer who reads sure will have an advantage.
     
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  15. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    There's no long, waffly answer for this in my opinion. Just read whenever you can. It's never too late to pick up a book. It'll have an instant effect, I promise.
     
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  16. datahound2u
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    datahound2u Member

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    I've been a hot and cold reader for the past few decades. I'd read for a few months (or a few years) and then go a similar length of time without reading. However, in the past few years, I've come to depend on reading as a very cheap form of entertainment. When I read for pleasure, I pretty much rely on fiction, with very few exceptions.

    Earlier this year, I suffered through severe depression and anxiety for the first time in my life. I did not have to be hospitalized, but I did almost lose my job, my wife, my home, and potentially my life because of it. During my recovery, in addition to therapy and medication, I started writing again. It had probably been 20 years since I did any writing, save for the technical writing that I sometimes do at my job. Now when I sit down to write, I consider it therapy. It works for me.

    Over the past six months, I probably started at least a dozen short stories. However, for whatever reason, I found it impossible to actually finish one of them. But then I joined this writing forum, which has been very inspirational for me. I recently finished my first short story, and I am well into my next story.

    I think anyone who writes should also have an interest in reading whatever genre they plan to write in. But there shouldn't be an "I have to do this" attitude about it. It should be something the writer wants to do. If they don't enjoy what they're reading, maybe they haven't found the right genre yet.

    Since I'm such a slow reader, I'm rather particular about what I read, since I never seem to have enough time to read as much as I'd like. Thus, when I find an author I enjoy reading, it's typical of me to read several of his (or her) novels. However, I rarely read them back to back. As they say - variety is the spice of life!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I believe the important thing about being a reader is that it makes you familiar with what a written story (short or novel) is like. You become familiar with what dialogue looks like on a page, how dialogue and narrative get interspersed throughout a piece, how descriptive details get dropped into the story through your point-of-view character's emotions and perspective. You subconsciously become aware of what a piece of fiction sounds like.

    So often new writers today draw their inspiration from movies and TV. While the stories are there, and may well be inspirational, the newbie writers then attempt to recreate a 'film' in written form, and it just doesn't work very well.

    They often write dialogue-heavy stuff, expecting the dialogue to do all the work, without giving us an ongoing picture of what's happening at the same time as characters are speaking. They need to let readers know what the POV characters are thinking about in the scene, as well as what they're saying. What actions are all of the characters taking during the scene? We won't know unless you tell us. What kinds of facial expressions made by other characters tell the POV character what effect his words are having on them? We won't know, unless you let us in on the facial expressions, then let us know what the POV character thinks when he sees them.

    Newbie 'descriptions' of characters and the setting sometimes lack any emotional content or perspective and tend to get delivered in a large lump, usually right at the beginning of any scene. Instead of writing how a particular place makes their POV character feel, they write what it would look like if they were scouting a movie setting. White clapboard two-story house with green shutters and large picture window at the front, driveway on the left, quiet street. Or casting the part of one of the characters. Very pretty girl with black hair and blue eyes, about 5'4" tall, carrying a red school bag. This kind of thing.

    If you are a reader, rather than simply a watcher, you'd know this kind of writing doesn't work very well. There is no emotional engagement or individual 'take' on the subject. It's the emotional engagement and personal perspective that you'll pick up on, if you're a reader of fiction. This will become the natural way to work your way through a story while you're writing one yourself.

    And you'll acquire a subconscious awareness of SPAG issues as well. Nothing helps you pick up your own errors better than being a voracious reader.

    However, there is nothing wrong with going 'off' reading every now and again. It's 'having read' a lot that matters, not whether you're actually reading at the moment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
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  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had a bit of the same problem. I stepped away from both writing and reading novels for a number of years after college and came back to it eight years later when I decided that the novel the was nagging at me needed written. A few observations:

    1) I've learned that I'm never going to be as well-read in the modern or classical literature scene as most of my writing group or as much as I would like. My degree isn't in English and I've devoted a substantial period of my life to cramming my head with the stuff I actually did study in college, and I do not have time to read everything.
    2) This is okay. I can still write my own stuff as well as anyone else. And nobody in my writing group cares.
    3) (Oh - I joined a writing group - that's a key support thing for me. It's good to hang out with other people who are the same kind of crazy and thereby validate your decision to write. Also reading their stuff helps me work on mine)
    4) I do actively devote time to trying to be better read in terms of fiction - it's part of my learning process for writing - but I know I can only have one book going at a time and that it may take me a month or two to finish it. So I'm realistic with my expectations and I make sure I read the books I really want to be reading. No reading of novels on whims.
    5) AUDIOBOOKS ARE YOUR FRIEND! I can't read a novel at my office or on my c0mmute. I can listen to an audiobook.
    6) I listen to the podcast "Writing Excuses" obsessively as curriculum. The episodes are short and targeted at specific issues, they're a great way to learn about various aspects of story construction, and they're great refreshers. I probably shouldn't admit this but there are a lot of episodes I've listened to four or five times as refereshers. It's just a way of keeping the fundamentals in my head at all times so that when I do my writing I have all of the basics about construction in my head constantly.

    You don't have to be a voracious reader, and honestly writing is more important than reading. But making time to develop your understanding of the craft is important, so look for the little ways you can do it and don't beat yourself up because you can't do everything. It'll all work out.
     
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  19. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) INTP :p

    2) When Stephen King said that all writers must read, he wasn't referring to Twilight. I've read Twilight, and if you've been reading it too, then I think we're zeroing in on what's causing your problem :D

    3) OK, I'm probably being serious now. Step 1: Think of the last book that you remember loving, that you remember wanting to read because you were desperate to find out what happened next. If you can't think of a book, think of a movie or TV show instead. Step 2: look up the story on TV Tropes and scroll through the list of storytelling gimmicks that the story used (types of plots, types of settings, types of characters...), and follow the links for the specific parts of the story that you loved the most. Step 3: on each storytelling tool you looked at, scroll down to look at stories that did the same thing that you loved about your initial story.
     
  20. UpstateWriter
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    I don't think writers need to be voracious readers, but some reading is important. Even though I write novels, I seldom read them. I do, however, devour short stories which typically take less than fifteen minutes to read. A lot of great lit magazines past and present have fiction archived on the net.
     
  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to chime in on the reading of "Twilight" - not my thing but if you're writing in that segment of the YA genre then it's probably worth it to know the big books in said genre.
     
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  22. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    An important point. "Reading" doesn't just mean English class and its canon of classics. If you're writing science fiction, read science fiction--I mean, of course read a variety, but you need to intimately know your niche. If you're writing contemporary romance, read it. And if you're writing YA stories, you should damn well be studying the successful ones.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Reading is the best way to learn how to write. This includes not only classics, but reading heavily in whatever genre you're writing. This also includes reading immensely popular books, regardless of what people on writing forums think of them. If you're writing for YA, for example, it's foolish not to read Twilight, Hunger Games, and the other massive successes in the field. But it is important, as well, to read outside of your genre. The broader the base of your reading, the better off you'll be.
     
  24. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    Yeah lol. If Stephen King read Twilight and 50 Shades that tells you something about the importance of reading pop. books. Though I will say, hated both and it fueled my desire to write a certain way for my YA book.
     

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