Has Being a Writer Changed You as a Reader?

Some years ago I read a book that was popular at the time. It was not normally one that I would go out of my way to read, but there was so much talk about it, my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I borrowed the book from the library.

The book began alright and I gradually worked my way half way through it, when after a while, I felt the need to put it down. I began to wonder. ‘Is this it? How much longer does this go on for?’ The problem was – nothing was happening. There was no conflict, just people going about their business. I knew something had to happen eventually, so I picked it up again and persevered with it some more, but still, nothing was happening. There were no ‘blips’, just one long endless flat line. Boring! I didn’t waste any more time with it and returned it to the library.

A few years after this incident, another book came out that once again, people were raving about. My husband had become curious and eventually bought the book. He began telling me about the plot and thought the characters (made out to be intelligent people) must have been incredibly stupid if he could solve the problem before they could. Of-course the writer in me paid attention to that one straight away. My husband suggested I take a look at it. In all honesty, I could not make it past the first chapter. It was full of clichés and my writing brain couldn’t take any more. I began to wonder how this ever got published.

From these experiences I’ve come to learn that it is in our own best interests as writers to read widely. These two books may not have been ones I would usually read, but it made me aware of particular trends. It also gave me the courage to continue writing and work harder at my craft.

I quickly discovered that when a book doesn’t do it for me, to put it down and move on. Perhaps the real lesson here is that I shouldn’t fall for books that generate a lot of ‘hype’ and follow my instincts. 😉

How has being a writer changed you as a reader? Do you read books that ‘trend’? Is there a book that you’ve read recently that you just couldn’t finish? Do you see some published books as a way to improve your own writing?

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Main image courtesy of Pixabay

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12 thoughts on “Has Being a Writer Changed You as a Reader?

  1. Great blog. I probably am a bit more critical. I enjoy great writing which often gives me inspiration as well as lesson with sentence construction or story structure. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer is one such novel which I hold up as being brilliant.

    1. Hi S.C Karakaltsas. Reading great writing is such an inspiration and we can learn so much from others. I wish I could write ‘flowery’ prose like some authors do. I love Tim Winton’s writing; he always makes it look so easy! I haven’t heard of that book that you mentioned, so many thanks for the recommendation. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. Some trending books make my eyeballs bleed before the first chapter is done. Too melodramatic? Fits the prose… Then there are others that are a delight to read. I think it’s good to know what’s trending and to figure out why – sometimes it’s the story and other times it’s the characters or the genre. And figuring out why the story is yawn-worthy is good – it’s like a how not to 🙂

    1. You’re spot on Ronel. It’s good to know what’s trending and why. We can learn from them in many ways. The last book I read that was a trend was ‘Gone Girl’ and from my experience I found that to be the exception rather than the rule. 🙂

  3. In recent years I’ve found that I can read as a reader, and I can read as a writer. As a reader I enjoy the story like a good melody. As a writer I’m actively looking at how the story does what it does, why it makes me react in specific ways.
    The two are not exclusive, but there are definitely stories that I did not enjoy as a reader, which I chose to continue reading so that I could learn from them as a writer.
    There are times where I suspect it’s made me more picky as a reader, but there are also times where I can tell that a story has weak points, but I choose to let go, relax, and let the melody carry me.
    In some ways I think it’s made me a stronger reader because I recognize more of what’s going on, and appreciate how much work the author must have put into making it so.

    1. Hi Adam. I like how you refer a good story to a good melody. There are times when a story pulls you in and you have no concept of neither time nor the fact that you are actually reading a book. I’ve only experienced that a few times. It’s rare, but it’s a wonderful feeling and demonstrates the skills of the author. A lesson well worth heeding. 😉

      1. Indeed. In my mind the mark of a good story is not “perfection”, or that you can’t see/predict the ending; it’s that you’re so lost in the moment of “right now” that you don’t step back and think about that. You don’t want to see “how the trick is done” because you’re so happy letting it simply be “magic”.

  4. Yes, a million times. I can’t read most books now, or get into them, I should say. I find books to be different than they once were. From adult to children. Yet, it has helped my writing because I can see what I would change.

    1. Wow, Savannah that is a big change. Is it the same for audio books? I’m glad it’s helped your writing. 🙂

    1. Hi Adam. Thank you or the award, that is so sweet of you! I’ll really have to come up with something now. 😉

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