Tag Archives: reading helps writing

How to Enjoy Reading as a Writer (And Complete Those Reading Goals)

21 Jun

It’s summertime, which means beach reads are among us. Not to mention the fact that we’re halfway through 2021. (Eek!) How far along are you on your reading goals? I aim to read 52 books a year. I’m definitely not there yet. But I know a lot of us take this time of the year to catch up on our TBR pile, so I wanted to chat about books from the writer’s perspective. 

As Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” It’s a very popular writing advice quote that most writers have probably heard here and there. I tend to agree with it. Reading is an important step of becoming a writer. But what happens when you don’t enjoy reading anymore? What if reading starts to feel like a chore? 

More often than not, I hear three reading issues from writers:

  • I can’t read while I’m writing. I fear accidentally taking those author’s words and using them myself in my current WIP. 
  • I don’t have enough time to read and write. My schedule doesn’t allow me to sit down and do both, so I have to skip the reading part. 
  • I don’t enjoy reading anymore. All I do is compare my work to theirs and/or I see tropes/mistakes/what’s coming rather than enjoy the moment.  

Sound like you? I’ve certainly been here before. The one that bit me the hardest was the last one. I used to get in such a writing headspace that I felt like I was studying every book I was reading rather than sitting back and enjoying the story. Eventually, I realized that I had to consciously set aside my writing brain and invite my reading one in. But more on that below! 

Combining reading with a beautiful place doesn’t hurt either!

If you’re the kind of writer that struggles with reading, here’s some quick tips:

  • Try reading in a different medium: I love audiobooks. They are absolutely perfect when it comes to my schedule, because I can read while driving, cooking, or doing other chores. They also give me a chance to rest my eyes and hands, which often get sore between my day job and writing. I’ve personally found audiobooks to help with separating reading from writing. My writing brain is easier to turn off when I’m listening to an audiobook because I don’t write in that same format. This required some lifestyle adjustments, though. In fact, I deleted all writing advice podcasts from my phone, so that I would stop associating audio with advice. Audio is now solely a place for joy—not advice—and making sure I honor that has helped my brain stay in that happy place for longer. 
  • Try reading a genre or age category that you don’t write: This is a good fit for those of you who fear accidentally taking something from a book you’re currently reading and putting it into your own words. If you’re reading a different genre/age category, it will feel more separated than if you’re reading something along similar lines. It may also help with the comparison bug. (It’s harder to compare your work to someone else’s when they are so vastly different.) 
  • Embrace how you’re feeling: What you’re feeling is perfectly normal. I find the writers who fight these feelings are the writers who struggle with it the most. I know, because I was one of these people for a long time. I often had to find ways to beat back the comparison bug. For instance, whenever I was reading something amazing and I started to think “I’ll never be able to write like this”, I would immediately flip to the back of the book. There, I would read the Acknowledgements page and read the growing list of people who helped that author get their story to where it is today. This was a factual reminder that my WIP was still a WIP; this book was a story dozens of people had helped shape. Seeing that almost always made me feel better. So yes, embrace what you’re feeling. Ask yourself why. Then tackle it. Once you do, you’ll find a solution. 

There are lots of ways to tackle reading and bring back the joy if you’re struggling. For instance, if I read something I admired—be it a trope, scene, or even a word—I would write it down. That way, I was acknowledging something my writer brain loved, but also took a note to deal with it on another day. At the end of reading, I’ll come back and analyze it.

It may take some experimenting, and you may experience hiccups along the way, but never give up on your love for reading. So many of us started writing because of reading. In fact, if you remember those old favorites that inspired you, I would encourage you to pick them up again. Enjoy that experience again. Remind yourself why you love the written word, and I’m sure you’ll be reading again in no time!

Do you have any reading tricks or tips? Feel free to share them with me! 

~SAT

P.S. Wednesday, June 23 is my 30th birthday! Where has time gone?!

February’s Ketchup

29 Feb

First thing is first, you can read my latest interview with Laugh Riot Press via their monthly newsletter, the Laugh Riot Report. We discuss writing tips, publishing tips, and how to market yourself while writing your next book. Read that by clicking here. (You don’t have to sign up to read the interview, but I highly suggest signing up for the Laugh Riot Report. Read more about it by clicking here.) Why should you sign up for this newsletter? Well, once a month, Laugh Riot Press collects 12 extremely helpful articles for writers navigating the self-publishing world. These articles are handpicked as leading information in the industry. I’m a huge fan of LRP…and on top of that awesome deal, they are hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of Workman’s Complication right now. Enter via Rafflecopter here.  

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This was one crazy (but short) month! Between radio interviews and book signings, I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down, but it was a wonderful problem to have.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this February.

Big Moments:

I had a book signing in Barnes & Noble in Wichita, Kansas during the Romance Author Valentine’s Day Event! It was a blast and a pure joy to share the day with Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerJan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan. I even got to met a few dozen readers, and sitting down with you all is something I will never forget! I hope I can travel further and longer in the future to meet even more of you. Thank you for coming out!

Other than that, I had my first in-studio radio interview at Johnson County Community College. That was pretty crazy! That very day, Bad Bloods went up on Amazon, but the eBook won’t be up for preorder for another month or so. Out of celebration, I gave out the first sneak preview of Bad Bloods to everyone on my newsletter, and I received a lot of emails from you all expressing how much you’re looking forward to my next series! Thank you for your support and kind messages.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

Top Three Blog Posts:

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

1. No. Reading is Not an Option: As a full-time editor and author, I have come across more and more writers who believe they don’t have to read in order to be a writer. I adamantly disagree, and I stand by my opinion—and Stephen King’s opinion—that you must read A LOT in order to be a writer. So go out there and fall in love with reading again.

2. How I Became a Full-Time Editor: Many of you have asked and I have finally answered. Long story short: I fell into it, but I give out a lot of tips on how you can pursue your dreams of becoming a full-time editor today.

3. Fandoms vs Mobs: I’m really saddened by how much fandom culture has changed. It’s more or less a mob now, rather than an exciting and supportive place for all types of fans to join together. This was my article addressing how we can get supportive again.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

Choosing a Setting: It’s not that difficult! There are plenty of tools on in the Internet to help you.

Saturdate: Today’s Book Signing, The Infinite Sea, Shameless, and Puppy Chow: I had a book signing in a Barnes & Noble, which was way too much fun. I also read the sequel to a movie adaptation and discussed why sweets are the best.

Why Do You Read: I always talk about why I write, but I rarely talk about why I read.

Saturdate: Signed Books, Cherry Cookies, Everything, Everything, and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles: My weekly update included an opportunity to buy signed books of The Timely Death Trilogy, an awesome 2016 read, and a horror show based off of Lizzie Borden.

Music Muse and Tricks: This post covers how to trick your brain and get inspired by using music as a tool.

Authors I’ve Met Who Inspired Me: I have had the joy of meeting quite a few authors in my life, but I’ll never forget the first three authors who took time out of their day to sit down and talk to me about why I should never give up.

Saturdate: The 5th Wave, The Siren, Radio Interview, & Peanut Butter Cookies: I had a radio interview in a studio, which was pretty neat!

How to Use Real-Life Stories in Your Novel: I tackle an idea that seems black and white but isn’t always. Using real-life stories in your books can come with ethical issues and memory problems.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic

feb2016

#MondayBlogs: Writing Tips: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

8 Jun

Intro:

Over the past two (almost three) years here on www.ShannonAThompson.com, I’ve shared numerous writing tips. I love writing tips. Even though everyone’s approach to writing is different, I think there is a lot to be benefitted from exploring new options by seeing how someone else does it. That is why I am so excited to have author Inge Saunders on today. She’s sharing her favorite writing tips, and you can share yours too! We all know there are some great ones out there. And some bad ones. Feel free to discuss them both, but be sure to welcome Inge Saunders!

Writing Tips: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly by Inge Saunders

My name is Inge Saunders and . . . I`m an author. ::waves:: Now that my AA-like intro is done, I`m going to jump right into it, because let`s be honest, you didn`t come here for the coffee. ::wink:: You want some writing tips. And I have to add, these tips I go to every time I`m in the process of starting a new story or am in the self-editing phase.

I`m a romance writer, so a lot of my writing tips I got from the different groups I form part of, like ROSA (Romance writers’ Organization of South Africa), my Facebook Hearts on Paper group (we formed after all of us entered Harlequin`s SYTYCW), Marketing for Romance Writers, and my publisher (Decadent Publishing).

Falling-For-Mr.-Unexpected-200x300One of my favourite tips for writing is this: #1. Read. Read EVERYTHING. The good, the bad, the ugly. ::laughs:: Not only will you start to recognise what`s good but you`ll also know what doesn’t work. And hopefully, what`s working for you and against you in your writing. Study the books as you read. I`m the youngest of three, and according to psychology, I learn best through hands-on mentorship. Which means, if you`re going to teach me something, show me how it`s not done and how it should be done. So this principle works for me. I`m naturally inclined to understand it, and I hope this tip works for you too. ::smile::

In January, I did an interview on writing for beginners on a fellow ROSA`s blog Ylette Pearson and she asked me, “If you have to choose only one element (setting/character development/structure/conflict/ etc.) that is absolutely essential to every novel you’ve written, what would it be? Why?” I chose conflict. Why? This brings me to #2. Conflict makes the story interesting, keeps you and the reader interested. When there`s no conflict or it can be solved with a simple conversation, it`s not enough. I`ve dropped many a project because there wasn`t enough conflict. Suspense is power. Use it, enjoy it!

I love what Christina Dodd said, and it`s my #3. “Torture your hero early and often; it develops his character, sort of like roasting nuts brings out the flavour”. I don`t think this quote needs anything added. ::wink::

I have a WIP I completed during NaNoWriMo last year, Elastic Heart. There was a moment where I struggled writing my main characters and I discovered this nifty tip from WritersWrite.com #4. Write 20 things your reader will never know about your character. This will naturally bleed into your writing and provide richness even though you don`t share the detail. Another bonus is this; your characters will become alive to you. They`ll literally breathe on the page. When you meet someone for the first time you don`t know their back-story, but you know they have one. The same principle counts here.

The next tip I always, as in always, apply because if I don`t I might as well give up writing #5. Write from the heart and write the story you would want to read. Both my novels at Decadent Publishing are stories that came from ‘selfishly’ writing stories/characters I wanted to read more about. It`s not vanity. It`s not saying, “Hey, only I can write a story that involves ‘this’ and ‘that’.” Uh . . . no. You are the first audience you’re writing to; why are you writing, if you yourself aren`t interested in it? See where I`m going with this? ::smile:: I`m sure when you`re done, someone else would want to read that story too.

And last but certainly not least is this wonderful quote I found #6. Don`t worry. You`ll figure it out—you always do. Just keep writing. Which if you really think about it as a dedicated writer, you really do figure it out. Even if it means calling that friend up to chat through a plot, stepping out of your writing cave to breathe in the autumn air (here in SA) or doing some research on the internet. You do figure it out and you do keep on writing.

Thank you, Shannon, for having me today, and thank you for allowing me into your head space for a moment. ::waves goodbye::

Bio:

Inge Saunders fell in love with books when she started reading romance novels with her grandmother. Intrigued by the worlds books unlocked, it was inevitable that she would take pen to paper.

At age fourteen she wrote her first novel that wasn`t such a roaring success according to her brother. Not discouraged she realized something fundamental. As a writer you can only write about what interest you, a principal she still upholds in adulthood.

With a Honors degree in Community Development and Learning Support, she`s a former high school teacher who now`s a partner in a small décor business. And for someone who never thought they would ever wear the ‘label’ entrepreneur, she`s proud to be known as one. She`s active in her community-involved with local NGO`s – and her church. When she`s not writing she`s reading, spending time with friends and family, taking long-long walks in her town`s Botanical Garden (Karoo Park) and losing herself in a storyline.

You can find Inge`s latest release, Falling for Mr. Unexpected, here:

Decadent PublishingAmazoniTunesKobo

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

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