Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
I have heard it said, many times, that to be a good writer, one must first be a good reader. I can say in my own case that it seems to be true.
I was always a voracious reader. I carried a book with me at all times, and have been known to read at red lights. This was before e-readers, even. I tried not to read more than one book a day, though, because I needed to savor the world I left in one book before I could enter another.
I had one memorable summer where I let go of that rule, and I think I’ve written about it before. In January 2010, I began working at the online school. I was way too busy to read, because at that school, there was so much to do that I worked long hours and was exhausted at the end of the day. I was on an eleven-month contract there, and had the month of July off. I had collected a big stack of books to read that month, and that’s all I did, all day every day. A few days, I read two books. In 31 days, I read 40 books. Nothing else got done, but my need for reading was sated for a while. LOL
Anyway, once I found JAFF later that year, I began to read all the time again. I let work things slide here and there and got lost in Darcy and Lizzy. For well over a year, probably closer to two years, I read JAFF every free moment. At some point, I began reading stories over again, which I had never done before. It was only when I got bored with those and had nothing new to read that I began to write.
Nowadays, I go in spurts. Between my own books, I tend to read a lot. So, right now, while I’m trying to get a new book off the ground, I am reading the third non-JAFF book in a row. I’ll read for probably a few more days (when I’m not working) and then I won’t be able to. That’s the point at which the new story I’m writing will take off. It’s a cycle that I have noticed a lot recently.
I don’t read as much new JAFF as I probably should. I’ve been in the genre so long that I know what I like and what I don’t, and it seems like the large majority of JAFF writers are writing what I don’t like. So, I don’t read the stories. I feel kind of bad about that, but if I can’t emotionally take a storyline, I’m not going to read it. It doesn’t matter how much I like the author as a person, I have to guard my emotional health as much as my mental health. Reading is an escape for me, as well as a way to recharge my creative batteries.
I know many people advise reading in a genre, and reading a lot, before writing in it, and I believe that is excellent advice. I credit all the reading I did in the world of JAFF for my ability to write good stories in the genre. I will say, though, that the knowledge was gained by osmosis, apparently. I do not and cannot read to analyze, something Leenie, Rose, and I have discussed several times. Often, I will tell them I love a book, but cannot really explain why. I am, however, beginning to look at the percentage of completion in a Kindle book and figure that there’s a major “all hope seems lost” crisis coming. It’s rather annoying, really. LOL But there it is.
Were you a reader before you became a writer? Do you feel it has helped you or hurt you?
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3