Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Read, Read, Read

One of the things I'm guilty of as a writer is getting so wrapped up in my WIP that I don't read as much as I should. Don't get me wrong. I'm ALWAYS reading a book, usually two. But sometimes (usually thanks to Goodreads asking me to update my progress) I realize I've been reading the same book(s) for a while. That means I'm not spending enough time reading.


Why is this a bad thing? Well, first of all I really believe reading is the best form of research when you're a writer. If you want to have your book published, then read published books. Become familiar with what's out there and the quality, style, etc. of writing. I'm not saying follow trends. I don't do that. But know what's out there.


Another reason is that as writers we need to support other writers. Even as reviewers or book lovers in general, we have to buy books to keep the industry thriving. 


So I've decided that I will read every day. Every day. Not just days when I run on the treadmill or when I'm between manuscripts. Every. Day.


How important is reading to you? Do you make time for it every day?

101 comments:

  1. I do make time for it everyday, but lately I do tons of internet reading. But since I am doing internet writing, this might be OK. I do listen to fiction on CD in my car and am reading several non fiction books for research for my WIP. I used to read tons more books, but the online reading has become a must right now.

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    1. I used to devour books, reading several a week. Now I'm done to one, maybe two tops. I miss being able to sit down and read a book cover to cover.

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  2. Last year I decided the same thing. What's interesting is once I made time to read every day I got into the habit without even needing to consciously tell myself to read - now I can't imagine not reading everyday.

    As an aspiring author I have to remind myself to put the book down and get back to my WIP :-) Guess it's all about balance.

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  3. I am usually reading at least one book. How fast depends though! I'm not unhappy with the progress. I've read at least four books in the last month, so thats okay with me : D

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  4. I'm where you are, Kelly. I haven't been reading as much as I should be. But this month, I've really stepped up. I even made a deal with my kids to go to the library once a week, so they'll help keep me on track.:)

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    1. Before my daughter started school we did the weekly trips to the library too. I miss them.

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  5. KatieC has left a new comment on your post "Read, Read, Read":
    I am usually reading at least one book. How fast depends though! I'm not unhappy with the progress. I've read at least four books in the last month, so thats okay with me : D

    Katie, your comment posted to my email for some reason.

    4 books in one month is not bad at all.

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  6. This post is spot on. As writers we have to keep reading. Does reading cut into our writing time, or writing cut into our reading time? Chicken or egg! They're both essential. But I agree, it's a struggle to spend enough time and energy reading. I find these days that it's become harder to lose myself in a book because as I read I'm always thinking about my own writing.

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    1. The same thing happens to me. Reading sparks ideas and I'm right back to my WIP. Now I'm trying to read at night when I get too tired to write. Of course I fall asleep with a book on me most nights. ;)

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  7. Kelly, I do read every day, but it is mostly online. I read others' blogs, news, articles relating to my field, and I also have books on Kindle for PC (written by my writer friends) that I read occasionally (I'm way behind). I wish I had twice as many hours in a day so that I could get more done and read more. But alas, I don't, so I do what I can do.

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    1. I hear you. I tend to give up sleep to find more time in my day, but that catches up to me after a while. There are so many great books out there, too. I sneak time whenever I can.

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  8. I read all the time. I try to read the current stuff too, so I can see how styles are changing and what's "hot." But I agree. Reading keeps your writing sharp, and it also improves your spelling!! :D

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    1. Very true, Kat. It's so important to improving as a writer. I've made a point to stay current with my reading list this year, too.

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  9. I try but I don't alway succeed. I also find I can learn just as much from reading a bad book as a good one. Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on why a book is good. On the flip side, when something is bad it is almost always crystal clear. Then I make a little note to 'never do this' in my own writing.

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    1. I completely agree. You can learn from every book, whether you like it or not.

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    2. Does this mean I have to read what I hate to get better at writing?

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    3. Taurean, no you don't have to. It just means there is something to learn from every book you read, whether you liked the book or not.

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    4. Aside from learning what you don't want to write, don't see what other good it does. Maybe that's just me, or if it's not, no other writer I know admits to feeling torn.

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    5. Taurean, you can still learn techniques from these books, even if it's what not to do. You can learn from the characters, too. Do they have redeeming qualities? Are they consistent throughout or do they act out of character? Those sorts of things.

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  10. I'm always reading at least one book, usually two at a time. I'm not as fast a reader as I used to be because I find I'm reading as a writer, analyzing how they made me laugh or sneaked in a surprise plot point.

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    1. I do this too, Barb, and you're right. It definitely slows you down.

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    2. What do you do when "Reading like a writer" takes all the fun out of reading? Is it a sign that you can't have both reading and writing in your life?

      Sometimes I wonder if I'm better off only being a reader, because gleaming craft from books takes all the joy of books away, and with books being the only way I get to "travel" no family taxing required, this is a BIG DEAL!

      Kelly, how do you combat this? Has your daughter ever felt overwhelmed about books yet?

      Did any of the students you teach ever admit to this problem when reading? Have you observed it in other writers or yourself? Do you think this is normal?

      I wish I could deal with this better.

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    3. Taurean, you're not alone. Please, don't think you are. Being a writer does sometimes ruin books for me. I'll figure out a plot way to early on and the suspense is lost. I really dislike when that happens. I try not to let it get to me though. It's kind of like how every time I watch a movie with my husband, he asks me to predict the plot off the bat. I'm usually right. But I can still find something to enjoy anyway.

      I think what we have to remember is that books aren't written for other writers. They are written for readers, so we do kind of have to switch hats so to speak when we read. Not easy to do, but it's possible. Books are going to break the coveted rules craft books tell you about. It happens all the time. And to be honest, this is why I stopped reading books on the craft of writing. I just read books like those I write.

      Did I answer your question at all?

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    5. Well, I wish all the writers who preach otherwise would read this and get that, because frankly, they need to be reminded more than me.

      So you never read craft books anymore?

      I feel like the bulk of the advice I get insists me reading some craft book, and like you, I'm sick of it, but seriously, if not for some gems in craft books (Like in Writing YA for dummies, as hard as her blunt delivery is to look beyond) I'd still be writing the most boring plot-free query letters the world ever knew.

      You've seen many of them, Kelly, you KNOW quite well what I mean.

      But yeah, in general, I never want to buy another craft book again, but just because books I love do something doesn't mean it's right for mine. That's why I don't like to "dissect" the novels I love because it makes me the meanest, overly self-critical writer snob.

      But I am tired of being "commanded" to read one book versus another, like it'll make all the problems I'm having with any given story magically go away, and I know no one says that word for word, but that's how it feels the way it's shoved in my face. If it didn't I wouldn't be spilling my guts out here now.

      On the other hand, being lectured to attend writer's conferences and workshops I can't afford and can't travel to is the final nail in the proverbial coffin. I get they can help. I get they're informative. Please, no more!

      It's not snobbish resistance if I can't AFFORD it or can't TRAVEL TO IT!

      Is it?!!!!!

      I wish people other than you would believe that.

      Okay, that's my only off-blog rant for this week.

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    6. Taurean, I'm a firm believer in different things work for different people. I did read craft books a few years back, but then I saw how many authors broke the rules and succeeded and honestly, I wanted to do the same and felt I could learn more from those authors and their novels than the craft books. So that's what I do. It works for me.

      As for conferences, there is an online one that's free. It's called Write On Con and it's in August. I always do that one because conferences are expensive. I do my local one because I don't have to pay for a hotel. It's 10 minutes from my house. Still, it's expensive. No one can blame you for not going to a conference because of travel or money reasons.

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    7. I did do WriteonCon last year, but I hope to be more into it this year, I was certainly too wound to get much out of it their first year, as you may remember.

      I appreciate that you get that I'm not anti-conferences offline. If I could, I'd go to at least one every couple years, but if it's not the expensive of the admission, and the panels workshops I NEED to be part of,adding the hotel fee on top of that sends it to Pie in the Sky territory.

      I've even begged my grandma to help me pay for it, even the hands and knee thing, and I didn't do that often, even as a child. But we're all tight on money right now, so I try to learn what I can on my own, and for some things, like query letters and major revisions, it's been a trying experience. Am I glad I did it? Yes, since I do see some noticeable improvement, but some days I wonder...

      I guess some people feel like since I don't have kids to support, spouses to work with, and millions of student loan debt, that I'm coming off like some conference snob, given some of the private feedback I get on my writing. You don't do that. I can't thank you enough for that. If you weren't already married (I think...) with child, I'd want to ask you out. Hope that doesn't sound creepy since we've shared much outside this blog.

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    8. I completely get the expense thing. Conferences cost a lot. This is why I don't go to the NYC one even though I really want to. It's just too much.

      Yes, I am married, but that's very sweet of you. I'll take the compliment. :)

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    9. Glad that didn't come off weird. Don't sick your husband on me! I'm sure there's a match for me somewhere.

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    10. LOL. I wouldn't do that to you. And, yes, I'm sure there is a match for you. :)

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  11. One of the great minds of yalitchat once gave the rule of thumb that a writer should read at least twice as much they write. Good advice, but not always easy to live by.

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    1. Oh, I definitely don't follow that. Well, actually, I read more books than I write. Does that count?

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  12. True to what you said, Kelly, I'm finding that the more I read the easier it is to develop genuine characters and storylines that draw the reader in. Without reading I wouldn't have any idea who has jurisdiction in a crime committed near the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. in the political mystery/suspense WIP I'm developing. Further reading will help give me an answer between the Capitol Police force or the Metro, D.C law enforcement agency. Reading is a good thing.

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    1. Absolutely! You can learn so much. I always say reading is my favorite form of research.

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  13. Hi, yes, I try to read every day. I'm reading lots of indie YA. Right now, I'm reading an adult thriller called A Human Element by Donna Galanti. It's quite good. I'll be hosting her in early April as one of her book tour stops.

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  14. I never read as much as I should and I'm a writer and a part-time lit. student. I do fit in a lot of poetry, but I need to be read more novels. It's not just important as a writer, but just as a human being in my opinion. Plus it gives my nephew a good impression too so hopefully he'll want to read more if his aunty rhi is (that's the idea). Having said all this, I plan to spend the read of the afternoon reading blogs, and I'm not sure that counts.

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    1. Rhi, I completely agree. Reading sets a great example. My daughter loves to read and write, most likely because she sees me doing it so often. Your nephew is lucky to have you. :)

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  15. Such a good reminder, Kelly! I find that whenever I neglect reading for too long, it feels like someone squelched the fire-hose in my writing. I still write, but it comes slower and I nit-pick more. :0)

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    1. Yes! And when I get stuck in my writing, I read. It always helps.

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    2. What can you do if it doesn't help? What do you do when envy and inferiority's all you feel?

      Is that normal?

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    3. Taurean, books shouldn't make you feel inferior. They should inspire and give you something to strive for. If you're working toward something, you shouldn't feel inferior to those who've "made it". You could very well be one of those people one day.

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    5. On good days, it's like that.

      On the not-so-good days, they feel like the notches of excellence I have to equal, if not rise above to be taken seriously.

      It's easier to feel good about doing my thing when Charlotte's Web, Hunters, or Redwall aren't being lorded over my head. I've nothing bad to say about them, or their authors, I just wish more people would not use these books an their authors as a yardstick all the time.

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    6. Taurean, this is why I think it's good to sometimes read books that aren't really your thing. Reading is subjective. Not every book is for every person. In fact, it's definitely not. By reading books I don't necessarily care for, I have hope that even if someone doesn't like my book, others will.

      As for big name authors, good for them, but they aren't you. Don't try to be the next "Big Name Author". Strive to be you. Make people want to be the next Taurean years from now. That will keep you from going crazy. At least it works for me. ;)

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    7. Oh, that's EXACTLY my point!

      I felt like I was getting pressured for the opposite of what you're saying.

      I love Tor Seidler's books, and despite the mixed feelings I might give, I love Redwall too (Still have to re-read to first one) but I don't at all try to mirror them, because no one can truly emulate another author or book, but I wish I was better at executing my own ideas so people don't feel copying someone else is the only way out.

      I'm always me in my books, but some of the feedback seems to shun me for that, and I don't get why.

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    8. Keep in mind that feedback is also subjective. That's the person's opinion. You don't have to follow it or agree with it. The hard part about getting feedback is figuring out what to use and what to politely pass on. Stick to what you believe is right for you. Your CPs are trying to help you, which is great, but in the end, it's your story and you know what's best for it.

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  16. I echo your comment on reading is research for writers. It is how I've honed in my skills. And yet I can still enjoy reading while I pick published books apart. Reading has made me a writer to be honest. If it weren't for Harry Potter or Twilight, I wouldn't have felt like I could write.

    Anyway, I'm blabbing.

    I have to read. Not to say that I do every day, but I sure try to read at least one or two books a month. I also listen to audio books to multi-task. Helps me to gobble up all the books I want to read faster. Numms!

    I also read while I'm on the stair climber or elliptical. Helps me get through the agonizing experience. haha

    But, yes, when I'm really sucked into my MS, I'll forget about reading altogether. Because! Writing my book is most important. :D

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    1. My own writing takes priority too, but I'm really trying to make more time to read. Even if only for a little bit each day.

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  17. I do read everyday, and I don’t read enough.
    But Kelly, if you consider yourself not to be reading enough, then I and most others can’t even call ourselves readers.

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    1. I think I'm saying I don't read enough compared to how much I used to read. I used to read books in one sitting. I haven't done that in a long time, and I miss it.

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  18. I agree with you! Reading is so important for so many reasons. I have always loved reading and I do read every day. Sometimes I read for hours and sometimes only 10-30 minutes. I read right before bed each night, so I always get that time in. Of course, when I am reading a book I love I read whenever I have a free moment. Good luck fitting it in each day!

    ~Jess

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    1. See, I'm striving to get at least an hour of reading time each day. It usually doesn't happen though. I snag five minutes here and there. Not sure what it amounts to.

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  19. Kelly,

    Given how much you update your reading status on goodreads I couldn't imagine you have this problem too. Your output on your blog alone is more than I often can manage and I don't juggle what you do every day

    It feels hypocritical to admit that I don't read like I used to. I re-read old books more than read new ones. Still, it's the truth.

    Do audiobooks count for anything? As much as I love reading physical books on the page, it's often easier to listen to a book without envy or feelings of inferiority getting in the way, and while a lot of writers I know don't have this problem, I DO! I can't pretend it's not real anymore.

    Sometimes I just want to enjoy a book without turning into a psychotic green-eyed monster for lack of a better term.

    I feel like I can never find much middle ground in this area. All I do most days is force myself to write something, but forcing myself to read never works.

    I wish I knew why reading feels like going to war. I hate to admit that, but it's true, and I can deny it no longer.

    People often tell me to take a break when I feel this bad, but isn't that just ignoring the problem? I've taken breaks before, and at best are only a temporary fix, and by temporary, I mean only lasts a day at worst and a week at best. After that, I cave to conflicting advice and my own fears.

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    1. I think audiobooks definitely count. Why not? It's still a book, right? You know, Taurean, I cry every time I watch a movie based on a book. Why? Because I want to some day have one of my books made into a movie. It's been a dream of mine for some time, and it does affect how I watch movies based on books. It's hard when you want something so much it hurts.

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    2. Glad you understand, and that ad

      I know lots of people believe that real writers need to actually read the books on the page, whether paper or electronic to count, since audiobooks can feel like "cheating."

      But there are many books I never would've taken a chance on, and enjoyed despite reservations, if I didn't have the option to get the audio version.

      The only thing is you have to groove on the narrator(s), and I've been lucky that all my favorite books with audio editions (Unabridged, of course) had great readers, in my opinion.

      You cry at every movie based on a book you've watched, even if it's not bad?

      I don't have that problem, well except for the third Harry Potter movie, I hated how some of the scenes and plot was switched around, and after two fairly accurate adaptations of the first two, it was a slight letdown.

      Still, seeing Hermione deck Malfoy mostly made up for it. That was the best part of the trailer for that movie, too. I became a fan after that.

      I liked her before, not ashamed of being smart and all, but I respected her more after that, she showed the backbone I wish I had when I was younger, hopefully without decking someone, but

      In the book, I think it was more a ladylike slap across the face like in those old school dramas from the 50s, so the roundhouse jab to the jaw caught me off guard when I first saw the trailer.

      Still, as much as I don't condone violence to settle disputes, Malfoy asked for it. If someone dissed my family like that, I'd be just as ticked. For what it's worth, I would've tossed him off the hill, the thirteen year old me would. Plus, I'm touchy about the racist mindsets. Intriguing to read about, but H*** to live.

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    3. Yes, I do cry. I can't help it. It's me wanting my dream so bad it hurts sometimes. I also think about what the author must feel knowing they've made it. That's so intense to me.

      Oh, Harry Potter. Loved the books, loved the movies (though some are slightly different than the books). The Hermione punch was pretty awesome. :)

      As for audiobooks, I agree the narrator is so important. But I don't see why people would consider audiobooks as anything other than books. Books are books, no matter what the medium. Even the Harry Potter movies are books. Just different ways of reading them.

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    4. I know, and I guess this is a good time to come clean, I watched the first two HP movies before I started reading the books, it was easier for me to embrace the phenomenon by watching it first, and the books followed after, I still haven't read the last one yet, but this year I will finish the books and than catch up on the movies, I stopped following it after movie 4/book six because Gabriel and the blog needed so much of my time.

      Plus, I was neglecting my craft study, and I'm still trying to find a new story to get excited about. A non-animal fantasy, and that's as much to strech myself creatively as it is finding more receptive avenues in fiction.

      As much as I love MG in particular, and writing my animal fantasies, it'd be nice to find a story that's less inherently stigmatizing to agents o editors that I still love, which is why I feel torn about not being able to write YA or simpler stories for readers younger than MG, since nonfiction's just not my best thing, and early readers and YA are such in-demand markets right now.

      It's not just the market that's influencing my wanting to stretch out.

      I personally feel like I'm plateauing right now. When you told me in an e-mail last month about how you discovered YA's your best thing, yet you started your journey with picture books, some magazine pieces here and there, and now your debut YA next year, it got me thinking about where I am.

      Probably more dramatic than in your experience, but you get the idea, and you clearly still struggle with this too, as you've shared here, and with me in private.

      So, after what you said in an earlier post about being open to new experiences, I thought it was time to find a new path in what I was writing that I still love, but didn't have the stigmas attached to animal fantasy, if not MG all together, especially the more you stray from being contemporary or "National Geographic" accurate about everything...

      Take Care and thanks for the support. It has kept me from quitting more times than I care to admit.

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    5. Taurean, I'm glad you find talking with me helpful. I don't want to see you quit. You'll find what works for you. I know you will.

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    6. Thanks Kelly. I don't want to quit. I just wish I knew where I belonged, you know?

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    7. Yeah, I know what you're saying.

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  20. I've gotten into the habit of purchasing books again. Now I have to make the time to read them. I've finished reading two books in the last month and even wrote a review on one of them. :)

    I love books. I just purchased two more Dean Koontz novels at the Goodwill Bookstore this past weekend. Go me! lol

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    1. Yay! It's fun to get back into reading, isn't it?

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  21. Hi Kelly,

    I read everyday - or I try. :) I purchase books and place them on my writing table where I can see them all the time.. a reminder. Participating in blog tours at least twice a month so I always have a book (the deadlines put me on toes,and that's a good thing. :) Plus I am the slowest of readers. But at least I make a point to read a few pages in a day.

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    1. I used to be able to read a lot faster, but I think since I began seriously writing, I analyze too much to read quickly. Still, I try to read everyday, as much as possible.

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    2. I think I analyze too much as well. Sometimes I have to force myself to stop the analysing and enjoy the story..LOL.

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  22. I read every day. Often it's so much that I neglect my writing but I'm getting better at finding that balance. I'm currently reading two books and my husband and I are reading a book aloud together.

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    1. LOL. I'm the opposite. Right now I'm revising instead of drafting so I'm able to step away and read more. When I'm drafting, I get caught up in the story and forget to do anything else. ;)

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  23. Ohh I feel so guilty all of a sudden! I'm not reading much either these days. Seriously no excuse. But I'm gonna try too. I go to the library usually to get them but I'm so late usually. So I think it's best I buy my books. Right now I'm reading something called "Wild Abandon"...a funny book about a commune.

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    1. I used to go to the library every week with my daughter. She took a class there. But now that she's in pre-K, we don't go. I buy all my books now. I've never heard of Wild Abandon but it sounds funny.

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  24. I agree - reading is essential if we want to write well. We hone our writing skills by reading - and of course it is great to support each other :-)
    That said, I don't read as much as I would like - but I do read at least every other day.

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    1. Yes, it is a great way to show our support for other writers. I definitely should have mentioned that. :)

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  25. I do my best to read every day, but I must admit, somehow I'm always falling behind.

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    1. It's so easy to fall behind. There are so many great books out there!

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  26. This is so true. And it's by reading that I restore faith in the business and in my writing, too. Thanks for the reminder.

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  27. I tend to read every other day but just snatched sessions between things. Need to commit to reading more. Great post.

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    1. Yeah, I'm trying to commit to reading a little at the same time every day to get into a routine. It works for my writing, so it will hopefully work for my reading too.

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  28. I try my hardest to read everyday. So I'm most likely reading 5 out of 7 days. (Some days with all the to-do tasks, I can't afford time to read, however much I wish to.) Also, I'm a slow reader, and I'm usually reading 2 books. I get a little baffled and envious why some people can read 20-30 novels a year! Reading IS VERY IMPORTANT!

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    1. Reading more than one book at a time definitely slows things down. I know because I do it. :)

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  29. I am a readin' FOOL. Seriously, I do overdo it a bit, and need to get back to my own stuff, but when I'm in the middle of a great book, I want to FINISH it.

    What I am starting to do though, with my lists and challenges, is read a balance of things - works that are similar to what I'm writing, so I can get the tone and pace right, but also classics, spiritual books, books way out of my genre but which are just fun. I truly think this mix is helping to improve my writing. (Now if only that damn day job would stop interrupting!)

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    1. Oh day jobs. I kicked mine when my daughter was born. :) I don't miss it. I happily fill my days being Mom and author.

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  30. I think reading is very important especially to us writers. Since I'm a PB writer, it's easy and quick to read several of those at a time and I must say, I'm totally hooked on PB's. They do help to give me lots of inspiration and great for research purposes.
    As far as novels, I don't read everyday because I'm such a slow reader, but I'm trying to do better. I've decided that on the days that i have writers block, I'll spend those days reading.

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    1. That's a good plan, Allyn. Whenever I'm struggling writing-wise, I read. It helps me a lot.

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  31. I Love reading, but didn't do for at least 20 years!! I started again last year, but now I read so many blogs that I don't find time to read books. But the best gift I still give myself is a nice book i buy and keep in the drawer!!!
    What you say about encouraging other writers by buying their books is so true as since i started writing in a blog, I find it so important that other bloggers pass by and read and encourage me to continue.

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    1. Exactly. This community is a give and take. Support is so important.

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  32. I read heaps, at time I read Whalen I should be writing.
    I find a variety of genres is helpful to my writing too

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  33. Michelle has left a new comment on your post "Read, Read, Read":

    I read heaps, at time I read Whalen I should be writing.
    I find a variety of genres is helpful to my writing too

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    1. I don't know what's going on with this post not posting comments here. They show up in my email instead. Strange.

      Anyway, Michelle, 9.9 times out of 10 I'll choose writing over reading. I need to find a better balance. I agree about the different genres. They definitely teach you different things.

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  34. Hi, just saw your comment on Kicking Corners and popped over for a look. Very glad I did.

    Hmmm reading v writing balance, my report card would read 'could do better' I am currently the opposite to you and findig that I am so ingrosed in the book I am currently reading that I can't put it down to do the research needed for my WIP. Next week I could be back to wirting with my 'to read' pile threatening to topple on me in my sleep! Definately and area I need to look at...when I've finished this book!

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    1. LOL. I think balance seems to be the answer. We all seem to be going one way or the other.

      Thanks for dropping by. I appreciate it. :)

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  35. I love to read and am usually in the middle of several books. I read virtually every day-- lately more than I write, unfortunately.

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    1. I read more than I revise sometimes, but not more than I write. My writing takes over my brain until the draft is done.

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  36. I love to read, and like the muse and some other commentors I saw, I tend to read much more than write nowadays which is somewhat of a problem! I am constantly amazed and in awe of the skill of other author's and I love to learn from them.

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    1. I know what you mean about being in awe of other writers. There's so much to learn from them.

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  37. I'm writing more and reading less this year, but I'm still reading a lot. Both last year and this year I signed up for the Goodreads reading challenge. This year my goal is 150, so I figured I have to read 3 books a week, which is what I've been doing. I try to read everyday. If not, I catch up with the 3 books on the weekend.

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    1. 3 books? Wow! And that's less for you? How do you do it?

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    2. I read faster with ebooks, and I read on my phone when I'm out.

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    3. I think I read faster with ebooks too. I still read a lot in print though. I've never tried reading on my phone. I think my eyes would hate me if I did. ;)

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