Three quickfire tips for reading like a writer

 In All About Writing, Creative Writing Courses, Free content

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Most writers start off as readers, and lovers, of good books. In his recent Monday Motivation blog posts, Richard has been sharing the lessons he has drawn from a reread of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

But how do we learn about writing from the books we read – while continuing to enjoy and be transported by them?

Here are three of our thoughts on the matter:

  1. Read, read, read. Any kind of reading is good for your writing. Even if you’re not actively aware of what exactly the writer is doing, you do take things in intuitively and this will improve your writing almost by osmosis.
  2. Read bad fiction too.There is a point in reading bad fiction from time to time because the machinery of bad fiction is visible. Books which don’t work well make you think: oh this is clunky. Why is that? Working out the reason something doesn’t work will make you a better writer.
  3. It’s all about balance! A balance will eventually develop between reading for enjoyment and reading to learn about writing.When I first learned to drive, I couldn’t relax for an instant. I was worried about my route, changing gear, turning into the traffic … Yet, as I became more accustomed to driving, I began to enjoy it. I was still aware of what I was doing, but I was able to execute those actions while simultaneously enjoying the view.People come onto our Creative Writing Course and tell us: “Oh, you’ve ruined reading for me.” We always tell them: yes, our course may well spoil reading for a while. At first you’re overly aware of all the mechanisms of the book, but after a while, you’ll learn to relax again. In the back of your mind, you’ll still be aware of the devices employed by the writer, but you’ll also be immersed in the world of your characters and enjoying the story. That balance develops over time.

Want to learn more about being a writer? Sign up for our virtual Creative Writing Course. Kicks off 10 August 2020. Spots limited.

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