Do you read for your writing?
I’ve invested quite a bit of time in the last year into reading books and listening to podcasts about writing to expand my thinking about technique and style and see what I could glean to improve my own skills.
I try to work on my novel every day even if there is only have a small window of time. Writing this blog itself is an experiment in developing my own voice, a way to track my progress and share random ideas about writing and other interests. As I made a promise to myself (and more publicly on this site) that I would post to this blog once a week it has become a great vehicle to make sure I think about writing (and write) every week, even if I don’t feel like it. It was the only writing I did when I was on holidays, but it was writing! I also hope the blog will contribute to firing my motivation to keep working until I complete my book.
There is selection of the reading about writing I have been doing on my Books on Writing page and links to the podcasts I listen to. There is also a page dedicated to crime fiction related links on my crime page. I update these resource pages when I find a new reference that inspires me.
What books on writing would you recommend?
I have noticed that how I read fiction changes the more I write and my own creative skills develop. Though not generally a fast reader, I do read as much fiction as possible and try to analyse it to help improve my own practice. When I do read at speed I know I have been gripped by a story and try to understand what it is that I love about it. These days books that do not hold my interest are discarded (often after skipping to the last chapter just to find out what happened).
Most of the books I read are in the genre in which I am writing (mystery) but I do try to read more widely as I think reviewing work outside of your genre also expands your skills, thinking and approach to how you write.
I am currently about 100 pages from the end of Belinda Bauer’s Snap which was long listed for the Man Booker Prize this year and could barely tear myself away from it to write this blog post. Yesterday I caught the bus to the city just so I could sit for an hour each way and read it uninterrupted.
Snap is without a doubt one of the best novels I have read in a while from any genre and reading it has excited me. I feel there is so much to learn between its pages about writing as well as being a ripping read. The characters all have their own unique, if at times unsavoury, but believable quirks and I cannot help but be fascinated by what motivates each of them. The sentence structure and use of words are beautiful and drive me forward as much as the plot, and the short chapters have me simultaneously hungry to read one but disappointed as it feels like the book will end too soon.
I am doing a major structural edit of my own novel at the moment which at times has my mind spinning, but reading Bauer’s book has injected a new enthusiasm to get stuck into my own work with gusto…as soon as I finish reading Snap.
What fiction you have read has inspired your writing?
Image: Library Way, New York
6 thoughts on “Reading for writing”
Your blog has set me on a writing path. I created WordPress account because it enabled me to like your posts and posts by others who I can now follow. After I created the account I thought I should do something constructive with it and hence started my own blog.
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That’s lovely to hear Gordon. Thanks for the feedback. I’ll look up your blog!
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You’re welcome, and thank you.
Augustin Burroughs impresses me with both content and style. I have not been writing however.
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I love to read writing that challenges me to find my own style and approach. For instance, the first time I read a Terry Pratchett book I had no idea there were no chapters; now I tend to approach chapters on a story-by-story basis – some need them, some don’t. I remember being blown away by a first person story written by Tanith Lee: it was such a unique voice and it inspired me to experiment with my own first person writing.
Reading is essential to being a writer – I couldn’t imagine getting by without it!
I love reading a book and having a lightbulb moment! It can really inject new thinking into your own work