reading · writing

The Challenge of Reading While Writing

It is insanely hard for me to read a novel while I’m working on writing one. I know writers are supposed to be voracious readers, gobbling up books constantly to fuel their own brillaint ideas and inspire their own artistic minds, but I always feel like I’m caught up in one or the other. I go through phases where in a matter of weeks I’ll clunk out a solid first draft (i.e. NaNoWriMo) but not touch a word of anyone else’s fiction in the meantime. At other times, particularly the summer, I’ll have two or three books all going at once, or burn through a few books every week.

I think the reason for this is that books are all at once too inspiring and too intimidating. When I read wonderful books, I feel overpowered by how seemingly easy other people manage to craft fine fiction. Nevermind that they have professional editors polishing their work or (in some instances) hundreds of years of scholars helping to preserve and present the best possible version of their work. My take away is that I’ll simply never be able to write as well as anyone I enjoy reading—from the staples of the Western cannon to the fluffy genre writers of today. It can be hard to find motivation to write when it feels that there are already more wonderful books in the world than you could ever hope to read. What would the world need with one more that will undoubtedly come out (at first) all boggled and rough, raw and jumbled.

Of course, after I finish a binge of good books and am thoroughly done and satisfied with their stories, there seems to be no other option BUT to go write a book. When you finish a good story, it is a simple law of literature that the hungry brain wants another one to satiate it’s appetite for stories. I suppose you could just pick up yet another book from the shelves, but sooner or later I think every reader will feel compelled to pick up a book off the shelf of their brain and transcribe it as they read the story off of their heart and mind. To see many people do something marvellously well is one of the best inspirations a person can have. My most frequent thought in bookstores (aside from “YAY! BOOKS!”) is “Every single book in this story was written by someone who had an idea, put it down, and got it published. Why can’t I too?”

One thought on “The Challenge of Reading While Writing

  1. Hi Audrey, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I’ve enjoyed many of your posts here and look forward to reading your next! 🙂
    Feel free to check out my writing about publishing:

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