1. dmp

    dmp New Member

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    I enjoy writing, but not reading.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by dmp, May 5, 2017.

    Am I self-defeating? Reading is very difficult for me - my mind easily wanders and I get lost in sub plots and remembering who a character is and why I should care. As a "writer" I do not have the mental strength to keep things sorted - and am constantly bothered by my own question "Why should anyone care about this?"

    I read through a few of the shorter stories here and can almost make it through without feeling my mind shut-down. That is NOT a dig on the writing - most of the writing is engaging and interesting...but my mind...I find it completely easier to share my thoughts and ideas than to try and guess what will happen next while reading the thoughts and ideas of others.

    Time for Adderall maybe? :)
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    What do you write, short stories or novels or something else? Do you read that form of story in your chosen genre/s? It's very difficult to write well without having read well. Not impossible, if you have a natural flair for writing stories people want to read, but that's a pretty rare gift to have without nurturing it.

    and am constantly bothered by my own question "Why should anyone care about this?"

    This is normal though. There was a thread recently where many writers said they feel that way. I always have that crisis of confidence at some point when I'm writing a novel, but that's another reason alpha readers are so valuable - having someone reading your draft and asking for more is motivating.
     
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  3. dmp

    dmp New Member

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    I really write things - vignettes about life and love. I do not do much character development but simply offer a couple-minute window into the life and love of others - and almost always first person. As if a journal entry. I'll try to post some when I have some of the right permissions in the right short-story categories.
     
  4. seixal

    seixal Member

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    Interesting, I noticed the same thing about myself too. Reading and writing are oftentimes regarded as the 2 sides of one same coin, when they really are not. Writers get out of writing something totally different than what readers get out of reading. I want to say that if writing is a self-expression form, reading is more about escapism.
     
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  5. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    Maybe you need to relax a bit? You don't need to be actively thinking and guessing about what happens next when you read, just enjoy taking it in as you go. (Myself, I mostly speculate about what's going to happen next if something's falling into predictable, clunky cliches... and then I'm just deciding whether to stop wasting my time and find something better to read, or watch for that matter). I like to let a story unfold and discover what happens next according to the author's logic, not my own; I really enjoy stories this way.

    Sounds like you should stick to short fiction, which is fine, if you're not into reading novels with subplots upon subplots. But I'd suggest that your writing will be stronger for it the more you keep up the habit of reading, the more new things you discover. Learn and understand your preferences so that it's easier to find stuff that sucks you in (in terms of style, structure, character types, description, pure inventiveness, what have you) and that should help you branch out more into discovering and enjoying stuff that's actually quite different, but which still catches your interest in those key areas.
     
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  6. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    I know a lot of people say reading is about escapism, but for me it has very little to do with it.

    I tend to see writing and reading as two sides of the same coin because, well, they are. A story is a communication between author and reader, someone saying a bit about the world or human existence or the social experience or some interesting idea they had, and someone else hearing them out. Being on one or the other side of that transmission changes the meaning that it has for you, but fundamentally, the same thing is going on, you're just a different kind of participant in it.

    There's so much to learn, consider, reconsider or analyse as a result of reading that I'm resistant to thinking of reading a book as being a mere act of escapism. Good fiction should bring you closer to your own reality, and that which you share with the author, not distance you from it.
     
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  7. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    Your reading problem is obvious. You're reading the wrong stuff. I read a couple of hours a day, but it's not novels or short stories because my purpose for reading is to indulge in my interests. I read articles pertaining to news, nature, science, astronomy, kayaking, fishing, cameras, and writing. People who would rather read novels would probably scoff at some of the stuff I read. Funny thing is, I write a lot of fiction. Go figure.
     
  8. BillyJBarter

    BillyJBarter New Member

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    Yeah I totally agree with this.

    I used to have a similar problem to the OP, I would pick up say a Charles Dickens book or something similar and because I wasn't immediately engaged and found my mind wandering I assumed it was due to a fault on my part, that I didn't have a 'readers head', but when I was in my early 20s I thought I'd read Fight Club as I liked the film and knew it was short, and found Palahniuk's snappy style really worked for me, so I read a whole bunch of his stuff and haven't stopped reading since.

    It sounds to me from the stuff you write that maybe you should try reading some authors like Bukowski. Short, to the point prose without a lot of characters but a shit ton of personality.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Some questions:

    - Picking up on another poster's thought, why are you trying to guess what happens next?

    - Are you similarly bored by television and movies?

    - What have you been trying to read? Can you name any specific titles?
     
  10. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I share this same problem. I haven't read a book in... Ten years maybe? A long time. I read it on my Blackberry Bold so it was definitely a fuck of a long time ago. And I haven't read another one soon. It's just, well, reading doesn't really click with me anymore. I really can't get into any form of entertainment that doesn't combine with multitasking. I just don't quite have it in me (when sober anyway) to just sit and slurp up a book the way that I did in my teens. And I genuinely feel that this is some kind of personal failing but I can't really change it. I tried reading while I was working out and that ended with my cutting down my exercycle so it'll fit under my desk and playing Dark Souls instead which was vastly more successful.

    As it stands today given the choice I would rather be writing than reading. Always. Not that it's always easy. But I would. Evidenced by my returning to these forums because in the end I would much rather be banging out comments and stuff here because at least that keeps my focus on writing. It's just that we relate to writing and reading differently. Writing is, to me at least, incredibly engaging on a personal level. It's like someone just walking up to you, handing you a brief case full of money and telling you to take it to Holland. You just pick it up and run and as you go you have balance ten competing things and hold some bigger objective in your head and you just have so much going on at once that it's hard not to loose myself in it. When I'm reading I just... Well, I don't read. It's one world and even in worlds I like that doesn't quite do it for me. I listen to loads of audiobooks but thats never one single thing. I listen to them when going to bed and when travelling and when writing too, they are just the white noise of my life. But that's not the same as sitting down with a book.

    My mum once told me that she thought I might have ADD or something similar but decided against finding out because she didn't want me to get labeled with a syndrome (she was a teacher; she knows what happens to kids who get labeled). And while I can totally that, as a kid I would have loathed anyone who set me different standards than everyone else. But as a grown up, I really do see what she means. I have extreme trouble focusing at times and the whole of my life really has been a series of events best described as 'you could have done so much better if only you'd tried'. And that's totally true, but somehow I kinda can't do it, at least not without narcotics. That's what got me into writing; the only thing that got me to sit still and focus long enough to actually start writing books. And while now I'm a bit better at it, writing when I'm off traveling or whatever it's because there's literally nothing better to do. But I can't write like I want to any other time than when I'm high and it does make me wonder if I should go and discover if there is literally something wrong with me.
     
  11. blur

    blur New Member

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    I get the same thing. It's like my brain just can't focus and I start daydreaming or suddenly getting an idea to do something else while reading. It takes a very good book to make me keep reading until the end. Which is weird because I used to devour books. Not sure what happened haha. But writing is something I can spend hours doing, I'm constantly thinking up ideas, or sub plots or new character development haha. Strange
     
  12. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This makes so much sense.

    Also, if concentrating is an issue, try audiobooks while commuting.
     
  13. RWK

    RWK Member

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    I would disagree. I frequently read my own work, in addition to daily reading of others' works. A writer who doesn't like to read is akin to a shoemaker who insists on going barefoot.

    I agree with the others: you are not reading the right material.
     
  14. JPClyde

    JPClyde Senior Member

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    Here I go with a rather pretentious, edgy, and hispter like answer. I find myself bored with the entertainment industry. I just cannot enjoy reading, watching movies or watching TV in the same way as other people do. I want something new and exciting. Something that take risk and challenges me as a reader because that's what I like in books. I want something new to explore and not to repeat the same tired old notes.

    I find myself liking some of Neil Gaiman's works or Neil Stephenson. But I still find myself mostly bored that the entertainment industry doesn't cater to my niches. I love novels that get me to go "I would have never thought about that before".

    While it's not a book, but I feel its an appropriate use of my boredom is the TV show Stranger Things. Everybody loves this show to death, but I a hardcore science fiction, fantasy, and horror buff since I was young don't find this kind of retro homage to the early era as exciting as everybody else does. It's not good to me. It's not fresh and innovative.

    And now I sound like an edge lord or a hipster.

    I want something that gets me excited. Gets me to think, doesn't always have to be a mystery. But I want the high of something so innovative that it brings back my love of reading or enjoying the entertainment business again.
     
  15. seixal

    seixal Member

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    If reading one's own work counts, then yes I read very, very frequently and enjoy it. Thinking of my own writing as "the right material" makes me feel special :)
     
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  16. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber <[:>)-|---< Contributor

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    What?
     
  17. RWK

    RWK Member

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    No worries, it doesn't sound pretentious, edgy, or hispter; everyone gripes about the entertainment industry.

    The thing is to find your niche. You would do well to probe Amazon's swamps and bogs of 0.99 books and the various free sites. A lot of drek with occasional diamonds of true inspired writing.
     
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  18. JPClyde

    JPClyde Senior Member

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    Makes me feel less self conscious that I just hate the stale same old same old
     
  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    The best writers are readers. Non-readers will never reach their true potential and are probably wasting their time.
     
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  20. JPClyde

    JPClyde Senior Member

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    I do not like this statement. I am also inspired by video games and movies. Those are also stories in a way. I am visually inspired as much as I am verbally.
     
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  21. Miscellaneous Worker

    Miscellaneous Worker Member

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    Gosh, the amount of people who have told me that you have to read to be a good writer is tilting, you can get as much inspiration and understanding of story elements and such from media as you can from books. It makes sense to read to influence your writing, but why does it need to be said to be necessary?
     
  22. Kingtype

    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Contributor

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    Books are not other media, though. It is very true you can get inspiration from one media and it can carry over to another. I mean Shakespeare wrote plays but his influence is felt in books, comics, film, video games and so on. Yet it is very important to know and understand they are all fundamentally different. Reading helps your voice as a writer grow, teaches you different prose styles, how to pace properly within a text based narrative, and helps you start to understand the craft of building a novel/short story. So, a film might inspire the idea and plot elements of a project but the technical aspect is going to have some really key differences.

    Reading is likely going to really improve that, I think.
     
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  23. JPClyde

    JPClyde Senior Member

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    Well that simply means Reading helps Technical skills, but it is not the sole key to great writing.
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't think anyone said it was the sole key, did they?

    In general, ideas are a dime-a-dozen. Loads of people have loads of ideas. Having an idea is an important first step, but in order to produce a publishable book authors need to know how to write those ideas into well-crafted stories. And as you acknowledge, reading is a good way to develop the skill to do that.
     
  25. RWK

    RWK Member

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    Not the sole, but without technical skills you will not effectively convey your message.

    Imagine a musician who stated that he or she liked to play music, but not to listen to it. A director who liked making movies but not watching them. A game designer who enjoyed making video games but never played them.

    Just my two cents.
     

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