Reading and Writing

1170824_79172868As an avid reader, I like to have at least one book on the go at a time. I just finished Angela’s Ashes last night, and hope to start ‘Tis today. I’ve read them both before, but I often re-read things so that I can experience, once again, the specific feelings that book left me with the first time.

Since I have been reading this last week, I haven’t been writing much. I have focused on editing some of the stories that I am preparing to submit to publishers. This is because, when I read, I find that it influences my own writing in a negative way. No matter what the topic, the author’s voice will appear magically on my document and drift through the pages until it sounds like I am writing another version of an already published story.

Therefore, I have to make sure that when I am writing, I am not reading anything. It’s hard for me, because reading is a part of my life both as an obsession and a job. But, for me, it is very hard to let go of a book that I have enjoyed, and I constantly think about it for a time after I have finished it.

The same goes with editing, but it’s a little less harsh. When I am editing something that is non-fiction, or short, I can read whatever I want to. When I have to edit fiction, that’s where it starts to get more difficult. You would never think that editing can be whimsical and light, but it can. Different genres, and different authors, have different tones. They use different words. They have various styles, tastes, and use unique metaphors and similes. It’s hard to edit something without wanting to change it, and I have to be wary of whatever is influencing me at the time.

It’s not about being unable to separate myself from fiction and reality, it’s more like what I read changes my brain for a short time, until I give it some time and let my mind cool. That’s why, when I am reading, I can edit my own stories. ‘Tis is almost the complete opposite of my own work—it sits quietly in the back of my mind while I edit my own content.

When I am writing, I need to make sure that I don’t read. If I decide to read, I have to give writing a short break. For me, the two don’t go hand in hand.

I’m curious to know if they do for you. Do you read and write at the same time? Are you ever influenced by what you are reading, or vice-versa?

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14 thoughts on “Reading and Writing

    • I never copy, I just find that I adopt the tone of the book that I am reading, which doesn’t always fit into what I am writing. It’s a tough thing to manage, and it takes practice!

      • Of course, I meant copying style or vocabulary 🙂 I know exactly what you mean as well. When we love a certain book or author it can be easy to emulate them even if we don’t mean to or it isn’t right for our own projects.

      • It’s tough, especially when my favourite thing to do is to read. So much of writing is about style, and it can be difficult to define yourself even without reading all of the time!

  1. I am trying to read more in general, but I do find it difficult sometimes to read and write, because I think I do get influenced by what I read. I guess I’m going to have train myself not to 😀 I always worry that bits of what I read will end up into my writing without me noticing! That is something I definitely want to avoid.

    • It’s hard, but you just have to figure out how to notice when it becomes too much. Editors are helpful with those things too!

  2. Thanks for following my blog. I am following you as well. Interesting concept on reading leading to influence in writing. I think we all have in some way or another been lead down a particular path given what we are reading. I agree editors are very valuable.

  3. It can be infuriating to try and write or edit something after reading something of someone else’s. I find I wind up writing more in there style, flow, and stuff like that. I have to take a nap and read something in the style that I’m trying to write to be able to get back on track.

    • Yes, it can be difficult. I try to read things outside of what I am writing so that I don’t get caught up in another’s style. For example, if I am writing horror, I stay away from Poe and read something more modern of a different genre.

      • my hardest time is when I’m writing something science fiction and I read about some slick sales guy from the 1930’s and then I have to rewire my brain so that I don’t use the same wording or language as the sales man or the farmer who is forcing the guy off his property and stuff like that. If I write anything after reading I try not to have read something with a one sided story, like the sales man with his “but wait, if you order now I’ll even throw in the…as a bonus!” I love writing, it helps with real life for me.

      • Yes, that’s why I try to read something from a different era while I am writing. If I read Ken Follet while writing horror, it is unlikely that I will sound like him since my style when writing horror is much different than fantasy or historical fiction.

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