Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Read

What do you like to read?

Not just genre. Think of a book you love, and what it was that brought you to that book. What did the book do really, really well? What parts can't you stop thinking about?

Today's writing exercise is to read something you like. Yes, I know it's NaNoWriMo. But that's why. Because you've been powering through for two weeks now, and haven't had a single break to lose yourself in something else you love. Because you're starting to hate what you're writing, because all you can see is that writer's block sitting in your path, and it's giving you a headache.

But also because reading is something you love. Because it's work, too. Because by studying the things you like, you learn what it means to do well. Ask yourself, "What do I love about this?"

Only use the aspects of it that you love. If your favorite story has poor editing, head hopping, or endless purple prose, don't pick up its bad habits, too. Just keep the fast-paced action or the romantic tension that keeps you at the edge of your seat.

The great part about being a writer is that being a reader is also part of your job. There are endless choices to study from, endless examples of amazing work to aspire to. By reading, you see the things that strike you as lame, or silly. You remind yourself of what to avoid. And you remind yourself of what you love.

Don't get NaNoWriMo-Burnout. Today, grab a good book, and go read someone else's words. Set a timer if you know you can't get extra words in this weekend and still need to write today, but take the time to indulge yourself. After all, this is indulgence is part of your job.

What's one of your favorite books? What's one thing you love about it? And how does the author accomplish this? Can you apply it to your own work?


  1. I'm not doing NaNo--I just can't write that fast. But I'm working on a new book. I try to shoot for 5k words a week, but I'm content with 4k.

    A book that I recently fell in love with was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. It's beautifully written, but she never lets her writing get in the way of the plot and the characters, which is something that I think often happens in fiction that leans toward lit fict.

    1. I'm not doing a true NaNoWriMo either--my plan is to add 20-25K to my WIP. With that, I'll count myself a success.

      I've seen that happen too, and I'm glad you've found a book in which it doesn't!