In a comment to an earlier post, Eric reminded me that in addition to writing, writing, writing, becoming a better writer involves reading, reading, reading. With which I wholeheartedly agree. It makes perfect sense, right? A writer needs to be familiar with her craft, with what is currently being produced. Moreover, why would someone who is not an avid reader want to be a writer in the first place?
Nevertheless, something has been bothering me about this axiom. What exactly about reading will make me a better writer?
Let me clarify; is there something specific I should be concentrating on while I read? Because, if a book is well written with an engaging story, I usually become so wrapped up in it that I forget to pay attention to how the author constructs the tale. Heck, this is the case even if it is not terribly well written – as long as the story is interesting enough.
Like I say, it makes sense that reading is an essential element of the craft of writing. What I am concerned with are the particulars. How can I ensure that I am fully extracting the benefits of the process of reading? Should I be dissecting the dialogue? Analyzing the plot? Critiquing the characters?
I suspect that the answer will become clearer once I am in the trenches with the actual writing process. At the moment, apart from my academic writing, I have not really gained any momentum with my creative writing. First, I must finish my dissertation. *sigh* (However, I am interested to find out how my academic writing skills will translate to a creative mode.)
Part of me wonders if it works a bit like osmosis: I read and subconsciously absorb ideas, techniques and suggestions. None of which I will notice until I am actually writing.
I welcome any thoughts, ideas or pointers on this concept. In the meantime, I have decided that one method that may help me is to review the books I read once I have finished them. Perhaps this will force me to be more reflective regarding the manner in which the author engineered his or her story. I have never really done this before, so it will definitely be a learning process – attempting to critique from a writer’s perspective, but hopefully this will aid in making me a better writer.