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  1. Edgelordess

    Edgelordess Member

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    Can you be a writer but not be a reader?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Edgelordess, Jul 26, 2018.

    I've always been told, despite my grammatical and spelling errors that I have a gift for writing. But how can I be a writer, if I am not a reader?

    What I mean is, I am not a person who regularly reads a book in my spare time. Reading, to me has always been a struggle for me, as I've suffered from a reading disability when I was younger. Thankfully, I got help around high school, before tutoring I was about 15 reading at a 8 year old level. Now days, I'm still reading at a high school level and I'm in my early 20s.

    I think this mostly comes into play, when it comes to reading. But I also feel it has something to do with a short attention span. If I do ever need to read something, I normally buy the book on audible or see if there is a free one off youtube. (there are lots of them on there!)

    I guess I am asking this because I feel out of place, when it comes to the forums and other writing communities. Everyone looks so smart with them saying "have you read this book?" And I look like a complete dumbass by not reading a lot. Thoughts?
     
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  2. Jenissej

    Jenissej Professional Lurker Supporter Contributor

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    When I search for tips on how to be a better writer, the first and foremost is: write. And the second most important is: read.
    So I'd say, you can be a writer without reading but you'd be a better one, if you did.

    I see where you're coming from with your problem, unfortunately, I have nothing smarter to offer than: just keep going. It doesn't really matter what "level" you read on. You don't have to analyse Kafka down to the last comma.
    Read anything you like and do it regularly. It is a skill that can be improved through training. I used to devour books as a teen but now that I don't have so much time anymore and listen to audio books a lot, I also find my attention span when reading has shortened but it's improving the more I force myself to sit down and read.
    Maybe it'll help you to set yourself a reading goal. Pick a book and read at least five (or ten or fifteen) pages a day, without breaks. Make it a habit.
    Good luck. :bigwink:
     
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  3. MikeyC

    MikeyC Active Member

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    I do all my reading novels through audiobooks now, mostly for ease and i do a lot of exercise so it's convienient. The main reason for reading as well as writing is to improve your own writing skills.

    All the best


    Rgds
     
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  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    never tried an audiobook. haven't read anything for the better part of fifteen years. write like a demon, can't explain it.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Another suggestion for audiobooks - I don't think they're quite as effective as reading with your eyes, but they're a hell of a lot better than not reading at all.
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Does the stuff you write get published where you want to publish it?

    I don't think reading is necessary to have a good imagination, and it's certainly possible to feed your imagination with movies, TV shows, songs, art, or life itself without ever reading a book. But reading books is a really useful way to see how other people are making their fiction work. Structure, technique, pacing, etc... you can study writing theory all you want, but I don't think it'll make a lot of sense until you see how it's done in practice.

    Maybe if you read a whole lot before you went on your reading fast, you've already internalized all that stuff? Otherwise, though I feel like there's probably a gap in your writing. Unless you're just writing for your own enjoyment, of course, in which case... nevermind!
     
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  7. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    you are a story teller. get it on the page. abbreviations, word shapes, crayons, stick men, whatever it takes. you can try slash pattern too.
     
  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    It would be easier to read a few books/or short stories - rather than labouring this chip about the place - that's...boring...for you.

    Are you a foghorn, or a two-way street?

    Do you want to be the -

    'Despite his prodigious output...Slash Axeman McVeigh never mastered the intricacies of written music...blah...blah...his charming and plucking style brought audiences to their feet during renditions of 3 Blind Mice. Humpty Dumpty solos were regarded as a masterpiece of the rustic form '? kind of thing [edit]

    No offense, @BV
     
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  9. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    (recording at half speed, playing backward, looking for satanic messages. One moment please... processing)
     
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  10. Edgelordess

    Edgelordess Member

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    This makes me feel better. :)
    I think I learn better from watching than I do reading. When I was taking a course in creative writing, I felt obligated to copy the techniques in the short stories we had to read for that course. (There was more reading and less writing, lol) And the first draft of the assignment given...didn't feel like my words but someone elses. What I mean was it was still my story, but my technique seemed synthetic. I used flowerly language that I would never consider using in my stories, ever, unless mabey I was parodying something. And I hated it.

    Shortly afterwards, I started to create a video series, ironically on writing. And the series is aimed for younger audiences between 10 to 15, who are in their fanfiction phase of life. And one of the topics in the upcoming episode is how to write about a transformation. The excersize I did was tell my viewers to watch this certain clip and describe the actions and scenery in their own words. Aftewards, I provided an example of how I described the clip...and I didn't know I had this talent in me.

    I guess the lesson of these experiences are reading can help you craft, but it may not always tell you how to be original. Watching life pass or watching a television show can help some, not everyone, can help toggle the craft process into something original.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  11. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I'd second this.

    I think you can learn about storytelling from books, audiobooks, comics, movies, tv shows, plays, games, whatever -- and storytelling is, I think, the most fundamental thing. They can all help. But it's also valuable to study your specific chosen branch of storytelling, and if that's writing novels or short stories, then that's ideally what you want to expose yourself to. I know that my writing improved exponentially when I stopped just passively chowing down on stories and started really paying attention to the craft itself -- and that's writing, not the broader storytelling.

    Not saying it's impossible or anything like that, of course. And I understand that things get in the way of reading, so I couldn't say for sure if that hassle actually ends up being worth it for you, when you can probably get a lot out of audiobooks much more easily. It's a learning style thing, too -- I'm visual, some folks are more audio-focused and that's how they learn best.

    tl;dr -- can you? I imagine so. But I would think it'd be easier and better to hit the books ;)
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    How about audiobooks? I do think that the reading part is important--you need to absorb language, not just stories and ideas. But I don't think that you have to absorb it as print; I don't see why audiobooks couldn't give you that same dose of language.

    Returning to add that I belatedly saw that you mentioned audiobooks. I would suggest being wary of freebies, if they're created by amateurs. If the goal is to learn to write to publication quality, you want to read or listen to books that are of publication quality.
     
  13. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think if you're just learning something, and you learn how to use a single tool, or only a limited number of tools, then your use of those tools will likely seem artificial and derivative. But if you learn how to use a bunch of tools, then you can pick whichever one will provide the effect you're seeking in any given context and that will likely help your writing.

    (Your example of only using flowery language if you were writing a parody is a good example of this - you've learned a tool, understood the effect it has, and now know when to use and when not to use that tool).

    So reading a few short stories in a creative writing course really isn't the kind of reading most writers are talking about when they talk about reading widely. Read a few shelves of short stories and see what you can learn.

    And I'd caution against overvaluing originality. (Again, this is all with the assumption that you're writing with publication in mind. If you're writing for yourself or or a limited audience, ignore me). Some originality is great, obviously, but too often things are "original" because they're doing things that don't really make any sense and that don't really have the desired effect. Like, we'd usually write the phrase "big white house" with the words in the order. It would be original, and I don't think technically incorrect, to write the words "white big house," but it doesn't really work, at least for most readers. It feels awkward, calls attention to itself, makes the reader stumble--whatever. Again, if you want the reader to stumble and feel awkward, reversing the word order would be a useful tool, but if that's not what you want, then it's a problem.

    Ignoring conventions in the name of originality, to me, is a conceit. Defying conventions in the name of effectiveness, to me, is good writing.

    But you can't defy the conventions until you know the conventions, so...?
     
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  14. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    I used to be an avid reader, powering through one or two books a week. However, after college, life just got much busier and, for a few years afterwards, I didn't read a single book. I've been getting better about it, reading more often, but I now supplement my reading with, as others have mentioned, audiobooks.

    My passion is writing short horror stories, and there are at least six good short horror story podcasts I listen to on rotation. Some of the writing is clearly unpublishable, amateur writing, but I think it's actually beneficial to listen to that and to think, "Well, I would've done this differently. This could be changed to..." etc...

    I've picked up a number of different short horror story anthologies, but sometimes you just need to zone out and listen to a good story. People would also probably freak out if I was reading while driving.
     
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  15. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I'm dyslexic, so I can relate to this. It depends on how your learning disability manifests itself. Analyze what learning methods works for you, and how you process and use information. Then do what works for you. Sometimes, that may mean saying " fuck everyone's advice"...especially if they don't have the same learning disability as yours. They will be horrified. They will protest. But they are not you, and your brain wiring is not theirs. Example:

    I read by recognizing shapes of words and filling in a hell of a lot of it using guesswork and context as opposed to the "exact" words on the page. so I don't "see" the exact sentences and paragraphs most other people do. So, although I can read a book, trying to pull it apart and analyze it and then mimic it in my own sentences is an exercise in futility. And it's physically and mentally exhausting for a result that won't happen.

    But, I can build sentences and paragraphs from the ground up, and if someone tells me what I've done wrong, such as an editor, I can rip apart the seams and rewrite it to their instructions. Yes, it takes a hell of a lot of rewriting, but I'll get there eventually.

    I also need "recovery" time after reading; I can't read and write in the same day and need a day of neither in between. That's not productive. So my best use of time and mental energy is to write, and rewrite, and rewrite. That doesn't mean I don't read...but I do read less than a lot of writers, because my pace is slow, and I've given up on reading to analyze the "how".

    There's more than one way to everything under the sun...including writing. Figure out what works for you. As long as you're constantly working hard to improve and it's not an excuse, fuck what anybody else says.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
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  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    But if that's the approach you're going to take, probably best to not start threads ASKING others to comment on the situation...
     
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  17. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Honestly, I'd say not reading will probably set you back, but writing's a bitch anyway, so what the hell?
     
  18. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    I wasn't the thread starter. But I do have a similar issue as the OP, and a good portion of my living comes from non-fiction writing. Everyone has to find their own way, and sometimes that way requires a hell of a lot of creative thinking and workarounds.
     
  19. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    No, I know you weren't the OP - I was using "you" generically. If one chooses to take a "fuck what anyone else says" approach, one should probably not make posts soliciting feedback. Since the OP has made a post, and assuming the OP isn't out to waste everyone's time, I assume the OP takes a different approach. Right?
     
  20. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I've actually never done this. I read, and the language sloshes around, and I write. I'm sure that what I write is influenced by all that stuff I've read. But I don't think I've ever consciously mimicked any of the sentences that I read.
     
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  21. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    This.

    My favorite author is Dean Koontz, and, when I read my own work back, I find that it's very reminiscent of a lot of his more horror-oriented novels. I don't, however, think to myself, "Well, this is how Dean Koontz would work this sentence, so I'm going to do that."
     
  22. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    No. You assumed the "fuck what anyone else says" meant to ignore all advice. That is not what was meant. What I meant by "fuck what everyone else says" was, take what works for you and ignore everyone else and keep your head down and write. Back on Ignore you go, Bay, and this shit is why.
     
  23. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Supporter Contributor

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    It's a piece of advice that I've been given many times, Chicken: "Read to analyze how the best writers do it." Somewhere on the Forum a few months ago there was even a link to an article describing how to read as a writer instead of just for pleasure. What I'm saying in my post is, my brain doesn't deconstruct and analyze written sentences to figure out the how. It builds them from the ground up from an instruction manual.

    ETA: But I don't think derailing this thread is helpful to the OP, which is where I see this going. I simply answered from my experience as someone with a similar issue.
     
  24. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Um... @Shenanigator , she didn't attack you. Not at all. You misunderstood.

    I suspect that my saying this will get me Ignored, but, so be it.
     
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  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Ah! It must be another example of that silly LA slang! In LA slang, "fuck what anyone else says" means pay careful attention to what people say and then pick and chose the advice that suits you. My mistake. Again.
     
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