It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. This months’ optional question is about your thoughts re whether reading is required for writing.
In August, I did a good amount of both reading and writing. In September, my reading went almost entirely out the window and I also wrote far less than I intended. However, I still managed to write at least one blog post each week.
To answer the question, for fiction writing, I think reading is essential. Of course, this means your writing is a mixture of your own ideas and someone else’s, but a good fiction writer (which I’m not) can write imaginatively enough to appeal to readers looking for an original viewpoint. My own fiction writing has always bordered on plagiarism, if it wasn’t actually plagiarism.
For non-fiction, I tend to think that original viewpoints are good, but they require some level of familiarity. I have read blogs where the author’s words were so jumbled that I couldn’t make sense of them. I also happen to love personal essays or blog posts I can relate to.
I for one love both reading and writing prompted pieces. I like to read about other people’s original perspecctives on a common theme. For this, reading is essential for writing. Even so, I don’t tend to read others’ responses to prompts I participate in before posting my own. So well, there are two sides to this story and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
3 thoughts on “#IWSG: Writing Without Reading?”
It’s always amazing how different perspectives can be from person to person.
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And in the same person over time, Brian.
Or in the same cat over time.
Hope your cool cats are jiving!
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“Of course, this means your writing is a mixture of your own ideas and someone else’s, but a good fiction writer (which I’m not) can write imaginatively enough to appeal to readers looking for an original viewpoint.”
Yes! I usually led with my own ideas as far as possible and tried to make a seamless join. That whole “appeal to readers” and “original viewpoint” – sometimes readers aren’t particularly looking for that original viewpoint especially in a subgenre.
Leads on to your point about familiarity, Astrid:
“For non-fiction, I tend to think that original viewpoints are good, but they require some level of familiarity. I have read blogs where the author’s words were so jumbled that I couldn’t make sense of them. I also happen to love personal essays or blog posts I can relate to.”
Oh, those jumbled jumped-up words.
You hope the writers will find out what comes out when you write and what comes out when you read or someone else reads.
This September I too have been reading a lot especially second-hand books. My favourite was probably Shardik by Douglas Adams; one I’d been looking for for a long time.
About non-fiction and originality: the familiar viewpoint in How Good Are You? was provided by a journalist whose work I had known a little bit [Julian Lee – a marketing guru] but not the general thrust of his arguments. I could compare it to CAN I RECYCLE MY GRANNY by the Sp!ked lot which was a few years before this book [2006 for GRANNY and 2009 for GOOD]. This book is about ecology and the environment and the changes consumers make. They mentioned my favourite ethical shoe maker who is local.
Empathy and identification are important. Especially when we look at history and biography and science.
Kate Long wrote a really awesome book called THE DAUGHTER and her pedagogical scenes are very relatable – also the young lady writes poetry [Kali] – and it is so very poignant and moving and edgy. The teacher travels a lot and there are 2 brothers with whom she is very close [she breaks away from Jamie near the end but Russ and the kids are still in her life] and there is a guy called Trent who Kali lives with.
The mother – Miriam – plays a big though invisible role. Especially through interior monologue and as the person the protagonist compares a lot to.
Would lend to my aunt and my cousins and maybe neighbours and neighbours’ sisters who are always asking my opinion about books.
Am reading Oliver Sacks’ Everything in its place now – it is a re-read after three months.
Also I read Rats and Mice: a detective story involving Harry Curry by Stuart Littlemore who is best known as a barrister and a journalist and has contributed a great deal to my media literacy and critical thinking. Rats and Mice are a lot of fun and the man’s prose is sharp and honest and cutting with lots of humour and satire. I liked getting to know Harry and Arabella/Bella and had hopes for their baby. There were three books previously in the Curry series before Rats and Mice and based on the strength of Rats and Mice I may look for another one.
The Daughter Game by Long and Shardik are the two I picked up first – then I went backwards and grabbed the Littlemore. And the Lee. You can tell I spent time in the L section.
That bookshop is very helpful as it is opposite the library and there are lots of clothes and a Phillip Roth audiobook about baseball and its history.
Might try to listen to chapter one now and see how far I can go and how well the audiobooker has done their job.
“My own fiction writing has always bordered on plagiarism, if it wasn’t actually plagiarism.”
And that has been my shame.
Or it would be my shame; if I did not see the hypocrisy of children imitating speakers and listeners and then we put intellectual property barriers up on reading and writing.
Then I put the shame on the poisonous pedagogues and wish for a way for them not to stew in their own ignorance or arrogance.
The thing about plagiarism for me is the intent. If it is an Ariana Grande “I see it; I want it; I like it” [and that formulation came from Kim Sauder] that is a simple motivation and it is easy to say “I credit it” [to the person from whom you got permission from].
If it is semi- or unconscious or only a little clip…
If I had a sin to confess on Yom Kippur it would be intellectual arrogance.
So I apologise for my snipping words yesterday. That is something in which the shame was there. It would have been preventable if not foreseeable.
In the 1990s world literacy went up by a staggering amount.
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