But I've been thinking lately that reading is far more than that. It's actually an essential tool for a writer. Reading stimulates us, lets us rove the world of fictional characters and refresh ourselves with someone else's wonderful story. So often you hear writers talk of 'refilling the well' by taking time out to immerse themselves in a good book. Not because we want to copy a fantastic idea from someone else, but because that free time in their fictional world recharges our mental batteries and helps us get ready for re-entering our own.
|Revisions and the finished product|
If I can have a bit of a break between finishing the draft and reading it - all the better. If there's a time lapse then I'm more likely to read what's actually there rather than what I think is there!
Lately I've been doing some other 'work' reading do. I've been reading some material written by other people - some in short contests and other longer pieces too. That's what inspired this post - thinking through the benefits of critiquing someone else's writing.
There's the obvious benefit that you feel you're helping another writer to get a better perspective on what they've done and some ways to make it shine. But there's also a personal benefit in critiquing. Seeing how another writer creates their story seems to get my own creative juices flowing. Reading a terrific piece of work makes me want to get back to my own project. For some reason too, it always seems easier to see how to improve the text when reading someone else's work rather than my own! I see writing habits I have too and resolve to focus on - perhaps the pacing of my current chapter, or the way I've portrayed a particular character, or the balance between dialogue and introspection.
Reading might be time apparently being indulgent rather than working. But for a writer, I'd say it's just about essential we keep up our reading - whether of someone else's finished story or works in progress that get our minds ticking over.
I remember the adage about never trusting the food of a skinny cook. I believe the same goes for writers. If we're not full to the brim with a love of reading, then why are we writing?
Do you read solely to relax, maybe for something to help you sleep? Or do you find reading also makes you feel refreshed? Does it ever change your outlook and make you think about things differently? What do you think are the benefits of reading?
Annie's thrilled to announce her next book is available to order.
DEFYING HER DESERT DUTY is scheduled for release in the UK in October and in Australia and New Zealand in November. You can snaffle a copy (free postage) from the Book Depository or from UK Amazon. Or go to Annie's website for more details.