The Woes of Being a Writer Who Hardly Ever Read

(From previous blog, unedited)

I posted this on Tumblr earlier today:

I feel like there is a great pressure being a writer who hasn’t read much because the greats will tell you that being a good writer means also being a good reader. And I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, but the ones spouting this advice grew up reading, and in a way, you feel cheated because they have, not just years upon years more experience in reading and writing, but they started at a time when developing those skills becomes engrained into your talents. It’s difficult to compete with that. Knowing that you are always playing catch-up and constantly in a state of inadequacy because you started too late (they’ll say there’s no such thing, which is only half-true in my opinion) and you can’t remember the books as well as you might have had you read them when you were younger and had the freedom of enjoying them to your hearts content. I feel like it’s never enough to just set a goal and read that amount of books per year, that it might be better worth your time to practise writing instead, but then the creeping feeling of inadequacy starts weighing in and suddenly it’s all about reading again because you can’t help shake the feeling that your writing is missing something or you feel like you don’t know enough about writing or just think it isn’t good enough. So, there is this compulsion to both read and write a lot of the time. You want to create, but don’t feel up to the task until you’ve read more. It’s a vicious cycle of starts and stops that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to break. How do you know when you’ve read enough to start writing those ideas you have stored away? How long will it take to master the craft before you’re certain your writing is the way it’s meant to be? Is it possible to write leagues above your reading level? I’m not clueless about writing and I don’t typically find reading to be a challenge (except for remembering how the books were written). All I want to do is make the best out of the ideas I have that make me excited to write, and learn what I can from other authors in the process. Maybe I just dream too big.

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6 thoughts on “The Woes of Being a Writer Who Hardly Ever Read”

  1. I think there is a gnawing doubt that is inherent in creativity. The part of us that says “Who am I” to create something worthwhile.
    I often tell myself “You have permission to write poorly. Do your best, but don’t worry, because this isn’t the end. This is just a rough draft. And if you polish it up, and still think it’s not very good, that’s okay too, because you can write another one.”
    I think it’s very seductive to say “I’m going to focus on learning, on studying, and then, when I’m ready, I’ll start writing.” But the reality is I don’t think I ever feel ready. So instead I say “a certain amount of time goes to reading, and studying, and a certain amount has to go to creative writing.”
    Even if it’s just an hour a week, spread over several days in little spurts. There’s the old axiom that a bunch of monkeys typing away would eventually produce a masterpiece, and I like to think we’re a little smarter than the average monkey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wrote this a while back, so it goes to show how much my mindset and habits have changed since then. I’ve written and posted a lot more in the past few months than the rest of my life up until now. It’s more important for me to write something I feel isn’t talked about or not explained clearly or whatever else that comes to my head and feels compelled to be expressed via literary means. The next step is getting back into fiction and writing books like I’ve always wanted (still got those stories I want to share with the whole world scattered in my brain on pages in my desk, after all).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is tricky, balancing the different aspects of writing. At the moment I’m a bit overly blog focused as well, but I feel that I need to establish a strong library of content. In the future I may reduce my rate of posting to create more room for fiction writing. Just not enough time :-p

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have similar feelings, with the addition of cutting back on consuming visual media and returning to reading literature (plenty of books on my list to read and re-read). But don’t want to abandon the blog either. It’s all about finding the right balance between things.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. True, and remembering why. What you hope to achieve is everything. For example when providing feedback I often ask people if they want to treat writing as a hobby or as a profession, and tailor my remarks accordingly.

        Liked by 1 person

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