Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Does Writing Make Better Readers?


Yes, you read that right. We all know reading makes us better writers but can writing make us better readers? And what does being a "better" reader even mean?

As some of you know, I've been friends with Suey for sometime. 10+ years,  I think,  and we both can say with a certainty about each other that: I'm stingy with my ratings and Suey is generous with hers.

It's actually a little joke at our book club that Suey loves everything. However, I've noticed something. Lately my dear friend has been trying her hand at writing. I'm so happy for her because she's talked about it for years and now, finally, she's jumping in. She's going to conferences, writing groups and even sent out one of her manuscripts to beta readers! Once upon a time I wrote. Not so much now but when I wrote I didn't do these things. I just read How To books and wrote....quietly...and tried not to talk about it. So, I'm very proud of Suey for just jumping in and fulfilling her dream.



So back to that thing I noticed. Suey is not being so generous with her ratings anymore. I always blame my stingy ratings and critical thinking towards books on my past days of writing and reading those How To books. I knew all the rules and when I saw bad writing I knew it was bad writing and was disgusted. So, getting a good rating from me was a little more work. So, is Suey being a little more guarded with her ratings because now, a book isn't just a book? It's all these words and there are rules that, while not necessary, do make writing better.

I guess we'll never know. Suey and I have discussed this a little and she's not so sure she's being stingy with her ratings. But I've also noticed that since I haven't written for several years now that I'm not nearly as critical with my ratings anymore. So, there may just be something to all this. What do you think? Does writing make you a better (aka critical) reader?  

28 comments:

  1. I think there is a correlation. Many authors have said that writing has ruined their enjoyment of reading. They don't do it as much or they are picky about what they read.

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  2. I've never heard an author say that but it supports my theory!

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  3. I think you're onto something there! I know my writing has changed my views as I read. I'll notice certain things more, grammatical issues or story structure, and then I'll start trying to figure out how I could fix it. Lol. I'm still willing to give out 5 star ratings on certain books, but I have been doing more 4 stars reviews when I feel I should.

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    1. Lol! I do the same thing. I start rewriting books in my mind.

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  4. I’m still pretty generous with my ratings, but I do think working on my writing has made me a more critical reader. I can still get lost in a story, but if the plot structure or some other factor is way off it’s harder for me to ignore. Like Jessica said, I end up thinking about how I would rework the story.

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    1. Yes, getting lost in a story is what it's all about but I still maintain that if there's bad writing it will pull you right out of the story.

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  5. I have to admit I just plain don't rate books because I find that I can't find a system that works for me... On my blog I will say recommended and sometimes strongly recommended and just nothing when I say I didn't like something...

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    1. Yep! I'm going to do a whole post on ratings one day.

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  6. I wonder if that's true. Like Kami, I have heard that some authors don't like reading anymore because they don't enjoy it as much. But, that's only a few. Most authors I know read lots of books and they're very good about campaigning for their friends' books to be read. But, maybe that's just being a good friend. Is it really what they think? Or, are they just being nice, lol? I don't know.

    For me, I'm not critical very often, as you know. And, I'm kind of worried that writing would make me critical. But, I still think I'd rate books on enjoyment rather than writing. If I can be sucked in, no matter how bad the writing is or the tropes used, I don't care--I like it.

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    1. Yeah, I know you're not too picky but I think you're more critical (in a good way) than you think.

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    2. Hmmm. I've never thought of it that way. Interesting.

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  7. I can't decide if the lower ratings is due to the writing, or due to the fact everyone is pointing it (my tendency to rate high) out to me! And I'm getting nervous. Or something. But I'm pretty sure your theory is correct, though I still feel I'm not very critical of actual writing. Fun post!

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    1. Lol! Oh dear, we've peer pressured you?

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  8. I think it can at least make you more attentive! When I approach books in a writery mindset, I'm more prone to think, well, if it were me, I'd have wanted to do this differently, or play up this element a little more. Whereas if a book truly captivates me and I'm swept away by it, rather than bothering with critical faculties, those are things I'm less likely to notice (at least on a first read). Great question!!

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    1. Well I find when a book captivates me like that it's usually flawlessly written.

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  9. I believe writing definitely makes you are more critical reader. I'm not sure I'd say a "better" reader, though. I've heard authors talk about how writing has ruined them as a reader. Is it better to be critical? Is it better that you and I have a hard time dishing out stars when Suey could pick any book and stand a better chance at enjoying it? I don't know.

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    1. OK, I need to start reading the other comments *before* I comment and not after. ;)

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    2. I'm crappy at reading other peoples comments so don't feel bad. And I actually think you have something there. Sometimes I wish I could just read like I used to. Pick up a book and enjoy it. Not really think too deeply.

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  10. Writing my own fiction definitely makes me a more critical reader. That's a good thing, though! I think anyone who wants to write fiction should read LOTS of it and really examine what makes a great novel. If you know what works and what doesn't, it's easier to write great fiction yourself.

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    1. Oh, and congratulations to Suey! I love how brave and open she is about her writing. And she's a great reviewer, even if she is a softie :)

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    2. I agree. And yes, congrats Suey. You're much braver than I ever was!

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  11. Hmm I'd never thought of it like that but yes, you might be on to something. I could imagine that when one is writing a lot then it must be harder to 'relax' with a book.

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    1. Relax. That's a perfect word to describe it.

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  12. Oooh, I think you might be on to something! I've been stingier this year with my ratings because I decided to stop giving half ratings- so I have to really think about it. I'm more aware of clunky pacing and telling vs. showing. I recently read a book that was really good... up until the end where there was this huge information dump that just didn't work. So, I do think the more you read and write, the more you know about reading and writing, then there's a stronger possibility that you'll be less generous with the ratings. ;)

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  13. This has to be why I am so critical of what I read nowadays, I just can't find much of anything that really excites me anymore. I've made a breakthrough!

    Funny, how I never connected all the writing I'm doing these days with that reading trend. Thanks for writing this post because it makes perfect sense to me now. It also means I'm not reading as much as I used to, since you just don't want to waste time on books you know are going to stink. Know what to expect if you get back into writing again, Jenny!

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    1. Ugh! Not sure I'll ever get back into it.

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  14. I'm not a writer, or at least I'm not writing a story of any sort currently and I've not read any How To books. So I can't say whether this is true or not of most writers/readers. But it makes sense that it would happen. Like you pointed out, once one knows about the rules and shoulds and shouldn'ts of writing, it seems only natural that one would start noticing those things in the books they read. Which could very well lead to stingier ratings.

    Perhaps I should actually try my hand at writing and see if would happen to me? Hmmm. :)

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