Forums › Fiction › General Writing Discussions › Controversial Opinion: “Reading makes your writing better” is bad advice › Reply To: Controversial Opinion: “Reading makes your writing better” is bad advice
Hello pagan heathen! First of all, I like you; I like arguing, this is good arguing. Second of all
WHAT THE HECK WHAT BLASPHEMY IS THIS!?! BURN YOU AT THE STAKE HERETIC!!!!
*Ahem* allow me to sweetly, happily mercilessly rip out the soul and ribcage and gizzard of this argument. First of all by breaking down each and every one of your arguments and inverting them as someone who spend two years studying Socratic rhetoric 😈😈
“#1 Following this advice is unnecessary for more mature writers.”
Ahhh the gall. The heart of this argument is vanity; no true lover of a craft would ever call themselves more than an eternal beginner. True writers often procrastinate or perfectionize their own writing by comparing it to others’ and this destroys creativity. It is like Pharisees studying novels, breaking them down, deciding on “correct” structures and execution, it’s like scruples in prayer that destroy prayer, it is evil heresy and a plague to writers.
But do scruples in prayer make prayer unnecessary for a relationship with Christ, does bad application of the law, ripping the soul out of the law make the law bad? Remember Christ said not one dot of the Law would be erased!
I never consciously studied a book successfully, consciously studying it ruins it truly. But I learned so many things from so many books, comics, movies and songs and I’m at the final draft of my novel now that I started when I was thirteen. I never drain out because I’m always charged by new things in the real world and in other novels and stories. I learned some very precise things going along.
~from Inkheart I learned to use layered and consistent imagery, and to effectively design conflicted characters and to be so authentic in writing that you write two stories; the one you’re actually writing and the imprint of your personal struggle to reconcile with something inside you.
~from Red Badge of Courage I learned you can repeat a phrase to trigger a host of themes and contextual symbolism to pull everything together without having to “tell”.
~from Rurouni Kenshin (comic book) I learned you can slip in a lot of “set-up” for the plot under goofy mini-plots and use deep contrast between the past/present identity of a person struggling to maintain a redemption arc.
~from Coraline (stop-motion kiddy-horror film, yes, I dig that XD) I learned to set-up with high-tension even when nothing bad is happening by slipping in just a couple “off” things and tacking them further and further the deeper you get in. I learned to plan the beginning around the battle for flawless foreshadowing and smooth high-stakes action.
~from the sacrament of Confession (I’m Catholic btw! Fight me LOL!) I learned to speak rather than hide. For writing I learned to write the things I didn’t dare admit because other people feel them too. So I learned how to be authentic to find my “writer’s voice”
~from my sensory crossover where I “see” sounds and “hear” certain textures etc I learned to mix that into my narrative for a sharper dynamic and “style”.
~from Shadow of the Bear I learned to be stylistically simplistic more and that interesting characters make up for slow-building plots when necessary and that it only takes a tiny bit of “off” things to maintain a level of suspense. And that subtly in themes is an art.
So like, I’ve only got three books there that I learned from (not counting the Bible which of course) so books really don’t give as much as they’re pumped up to sometimes, especially if you read them like a golddigger instead of appreciating the treasure books are of themselves *hyper-romantic sigh*.
“# Reading constantly as a more mature writer can hurt you.”
See, and I think this is one of the biggest gripes you have with reading; reading under compulsion destroys creativity. Studying reading, books, structures takes the soul out of writing. That’s a very valid point and no one should feel pressure to keep reading, I know I haven’t read a lot for a writer but I certainly have been reading a lot more in my final draft here (mostly because I’ve made more friends on StoryEmbers than I have my entire life combined and now I get book recommendations all the time and they’re soo awesome books and they’re all wholesome or reasonably so and I don’t have to worry about it and it’s awesome!!!)
I believe the heart of your heresy is applying the “rule” as a set-in-stone compulsion rather than a tool. Stop reading start writing is excellent advice and I wholly agree, writers very often spend so much time doing “other things related to writing” to procrastinate writing because of the Blank Page Syndrome. Which is why I make sure to set a very precise time to write on my novel every single day and I have a deadline for each chapter (7th and 21th every month…not like…always on time…XD) and when I can’t figure what to write I “freewrite” in a separate publication the overall plots/themes/problem until I solve it and if I can’t formulate the words for the scene I want in this chapter I “freewrite” the scene while murdering my inner critic so that it’s on the page the “body” of what happens and I go back and rewrite the entire thing adding in depth the way I “layer” art. At first I really hated this system but it really forced me to kill my perfectionism.
So read, read as much as you want–but never during the period you set for writing.
Another way to get out of block is mix you mediums; songwrite your story, worldbuild, comic-bookify, illustrate, audiobook it; anything to keep your subconscious mind on the project (which has become more and more important for me the more WIPs I’ve gathered on top of non-writing projects)
Consider this. I once took songwriting lessons from a famous songwriter. One very important thing she explained to me was this: if I wanted to write songs, I could not be constantly listening to music. If you constantly fill your mind with someone else’s melodies and words, there is no longer any room for your own.
LOL that’s crazy! I listen to two or three songs sometimes right before I write a song and the first stanza might sound a little like one of them but by the time I hit my beat you’d never recognize it as something I’ve heard. I only do this when inspiration doesn’t strike me immediately tho, usually if I start writing the song it’s a song that’s been in my head all day that I need to write down.
Of course this is my method and idk how well it would work for you, I honestly can’t think of being so hyper-independent an artist to avoid imitation to learn. *dramatic voice* It’s absolute heresy!!! Babies grow by imitating, any craft you ever study you study by imitation, Benjamin Franklin learned persuasive writing by copying books and then rewording them, Socrates first lesson to learning is to know that you know nothing, you barely scratch the surface, awareness that you’re a beginner makes you an expert by application. You must imitate to act, you must have material you didn’t make to build something solely your own; builders must have wood, artists must have paints, songwriters must have meters, humans must have God to love to breath to create to everything!
So, to conclude:
#1. Reading is important for writers at all stages for enjoyment, relaxation and inspiration but never compulsion.
#2. You cannot write without reading.
#3. Condemn your scruples that have led to this heresy. Repent and return to the truth thou heretic!! 😀
Also…lol what the heck did I walk into btw?😂😂😂
Don't let the voices in your head drive you insane;only some of them can drive; most are underage