IWSG 65: Being a Writer


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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Co-hosts:

 Ronel Janse van Vuuren | Mary Aalgaard | Madeline Mora-Summonte | Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

It’s been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author.

On the other hand, how can you expect other people read your writing, if you don’t enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

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I’ve been thinking long and hard on this and I have two answers and one response.

First Answer:

It is pretty daring not to read others work, because they’ll never know what’s been done to death unless they at least read in their genre.

But their reason may be valid.

Some people write for the love of self-expression. Just because a person writes doesn’t mean they plan to make a career out of it. I sure didn’t start writing because I thought I’d be published.

Learning the craft is frustrating at first. Hard work in fact. Writing and expecting people to understand your intent can be a hit and miss kind of thing. Or Dialogue can drone on and without feedback it’s going to stay that way.

Feedback can hurt.

Some would rather avoid the pain and enjoy their happy hobby of venting, escaping, and creating. I support the activity even if my goal is slightly different. Sometimes I wish I was one of them.

Since being published awhile back, I don’t know what I am. Some days I’m still aspiring. Other days I’m a has-been.

So there is that.

Second answer:

Sure, I’ve read that to improve at the craft, the writer should read. I choose to read every day but I love to read. I’m either online learning something new or in my latest book figuring out how they did it.

Think sponge.

For me it’s easy to spend hours in a book or online. Not everyone has my free time. For them, reading is a guilty pleasure and writing is too.

My response:

As soon as a person puts words down, they are a writer. Each of us gets their own thing from the craft. I don’t see any problem with any of it as long as they enjoying the ride—insecure or not.

What kind of writer are you? I’d love to know.

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87 responses to “IWSG 65: Being a Writer

  1. Hi,
    Writing is hard work. I feel it is one thing to write in my diary and another thing to write a story that I want others to read. When I write in my diary, I know what I am talking about but I sometimes leave out a critical word or the intent of what I wanted to write in my journal seems cloudy, I don’t know why and can’t piece it together even though it is only for me. I usually read in this case because I learn how to express the deep emotions within me and get clarity about my own emotional world. When I venture out into writing so that others may read it, like in my stories I want to be as clear as I can be there too. I don’t want my reader guessing about what I was trying to say either.

    To summarise, reading is important to me in both cases.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  2. If you’re writing just for yourself, it doesn’t matter much. But you can’t expect others to read your work because that inexperience will be glaring on the pages.

  3. I may be one of those writers who do it as a hobby. Whatever path I take I can’t imag it without reading. Even when I’m super busy I find time to read.

  4. You are certainly not a has-been! We are still here. 🙂

  5. You a has-been – never!

    I like the sponge description. I can spend hours caught up in reading as well. I’m also fortunate to have the spare time to do so.

  6. I very much relate to the sponge, so much so I have to be careful not to dip someone’s style onto my pages, but I couldn’t have been a writer without reading first. 🙂

  7. I so understand that feeling between being ‘aspiring’ and a ‘has-been’. Even after having 6 books completed I still feel new to the game, but washed up all at the same time. LOL It’s an odd place to be.

  8. You’re not a has-been! You just need to get the next book out there. Sure, some people write to get words out, but most write because they love stories, and reading fills that need.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Mary at Play off the Page

  9. I suppose one would need to rephrase the question to specify ‘serious’ writers; writers who do want to get their work out there; writers who want to be successful. If I’m just journaling, I don’t feel like I need to read other people’s journals to make sure I’m doing it right. No one else will see it so who cares if it’s terrible? But as for my novel, I want people to love it and feel something when they read it. I want to make money selling it. I want to be taken seriously as an author – by others, not just myself. I think anyone else who wants the same understands that reading (especially in one’s genre) is an important step to make that happen.
    So I see what you mean about writing just for fun vs. writing to improve your craft.

  10. If I had not loved reading I don’t think I would have ever become a writer. It is the love of reading that made me want to write my own stories.

    Seems to me those who don’t read miss a lot of joy and fun.

  11. I think I am aspiring and a has-been too! Like you I feel that way. But I don’t really think either one of us are.

  12. I wonder sometimes if the people saying this are worrying too much and putting too much pressure on themselves to be 100% original. Which, honestly, is impossible. As I’ve read in other posts, if you’re not reading, you might still be watching TV and getting inspiration there.

  13. My love for reading is what made me want to be a writer. I cannot imagine life without books, and I cannot seem to have a life without writing, although I’ve been tempted to quit.

    You are not a has-been. You are simply a writer at a stage all of us find ourselves in at some point in time.

  14. Writing is wonderful some days, and terribly hard work on other days. I’m a reader, so I can’t imagine not reading. I also think we pick up story ideas from everywhere so we don’t really have the option to be truly original in a clean-slate kind of way. Stories surround us, unless we live in a cave with no internet connection.

    I am struggling with the has-been, not sure I ever started thing too. I’m definitely a writer – but some days I’m just a writer for me.

  15. Great answers. I was thinking of people writing to be published, but you’re so right. Once we write, we are writers! And there is a lot of joy (and angst and work!) in this job!

  16. When I was in high school I wrote a diary. I even remember some of the lines. Like when I went on a blind date with a guy at 16. If I never see him, again it’s okay because at least we had that one great time together, I’ll always remember that night. I married him 7 years later! Nope I wouldn’t want anyone reading my diary. Working on this memoir, I’m torn whether to just keep it for our family, or let it go out into the world–and bore everyone to death? Difficult decision to know if I have a good message to share. That’s how I look at my writing. Will it help someone either as information, awareness, entertainment?
    JQ Rose

  17. I don’t think I would be a writer at all now if I haven’t been an avid reader all my life. Reading led me to writing. For me, reading is an essential part of being a writer.

    • I think a lot of us started out that way, but I wasn’t one of them. I wrote to vent because I was so angry as a teen. Trust me when I say that I saved the people around me quite a bit of anguish.

  18. I think learning the craft is very hard, and it’s brave to seek feedback. I love getting lost in a good book!

  19. Suzanne Furness

    For me, the thought of not having books in my life is scary. In my experience, people come to writing for so many reasons, we all have to follow our own path and find what works for us.

  20. Besides reading for enjoyment, I think I’m reading almost every second of the day some thing or another. Good Post!

  21. I began writing stories just so other readers might gain some enjoyment out of them. The idea of making money from it didn’t occur until later. But I never would have started writing in the first place if I hadn’t been an avid reader.

  22. I hadn’t considered that aspect of the question, but that’s why it’s a good thing I read other bloggers! Ha. Writing to vent, express, for your own enjoyment, or to clarify your own mind is one good reason to stick to your own writing. But I also agree that you can’t expect to write for *others* enjoyment, it would be a bad choice to isolate yourself from reading different works.

  23. I hope you never think of yourself as a has-been. I love that you avidly read, though. Wonderful!

  24. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    As long as you’re writing, you’re not a has-been!

  25. I absolutely love to read. In truth, I prefer reading to writing because it’s pure fun and a lot easier. It’s never work to read for me.

    Can’t imagine my life without it.

    And you are hardly a has been!

  26. I’m a reader who writes and a writer who reads. Just as reading is a guilty pleasure, it can also be a learning experience to help with my own writing. Personally, I can’t see how one can be done without doing the other. But what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. So to each their own.

  27. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Has been? Remove that from your brain, Anna! You did it, and nothing can ever take that away from you! I often wonder about what really happens after you die. I remind myself that if it turns out to be nothing but oblivion, that’s okay. Because I was. I got to be. And it has been a rich and wonderful ride. I think it must be the same with publishing a book, No matter what happens, you did it! You succeeded. Another book will come along, and if for some reason it doesn’t ~ You did it! Enjoy the ride, and keep at it.

  28. Anna, I think you’ve pretty much said what I would’ve said if I didn’t have a post scheduled already for this month. One thing I’ve noticed is that since thinking more about my writing, I notice more about the art of writing as I read. I don’t consciously examine books I’m enjoying that way, but find my brain has absorbed the information so it’s there when if I decide to analyse later.

  29. Angela Wooldridge

    ‘Think sponge’ – I like that. I pick up so many bits and pieces from all over the place

  30. Ronel Janse van Vuuren

    Writing just for pleasure… now that’s something I haven’t done in a while. Not that writing isn’t fun — but working with deadlines and goals doesn’t leave much time to just write whatever comes to mind.

  31. During October, I always do some “play writing” by participating in a prompt writing challenge. It always recharges me and I jump back into my WIP revitalized for it. But I never ever give up reading. I’m *always* reading.

  32. You brought a different perspective to it. I wasn’t thinking about people who do it with no plans of being published.

  33. I like the sponge image. We can’t avoid being influenced by what we read, but we can soak up what those other authors offer and convert it to our unique contribution. That’s been going on for centuries. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  34. Like some others, I can’t imaging writing without reading. I really feel the two are intertwined.

    Thanks for stopping by – and keep on keeping on, as they say 🙂

  35. I can relate to you saying, “Since being published awhile back, I don’t know what I am.” I fluctuate from has-been/undiscovered through aspiring to insecure and frantic. Reading tends to be my constant – even if I bounce between genres.

  36. I can’t imagine not reading. How else do you fill the well (of creativity)? Have a great writing month.

  37. Victoria Marie Lees

    Of course, Anna! We need to see what’s already out there to be sure we are not trying to create the same plot that has been “done to death” as you say. All best to you!

  38. Perfect answers, and great response!

  39. Thank you for your comments over at my blog!

    I once had a friend tell me that it’s important for authors to be prolific readers. I agree in that it helps to keep our minds fit and ready to spring into action. Our minds are a sum total of experience and self–the experience is reading and things that happen outside of reading.

    A lot of my writing comes from living experiences as well as my imagination.

    You asked what kind of writer I am. I’m not sure how to answer that but maybe as best as I can: I’m an introverted writer. I write by the seat of my pants. I see stories open before me like a movie does. I am a fast writer: I can get a book done in a few days when my kids leave me alone. Haha!

  40. I like your answers and response, Anna. Mine was different but similar, if that makes sense. Basically, whatever works for a writer, works.

    I think reading a lot helps one to become a better writer, but one has to have time for that. I’m in the “guilty pleasure” camp right now, as I have way too much to do and way too little time for it all. Reading then drops to the bottom of the list. Reading books anyway, since blog reading, somehow, always wins.

  41. Great answers, Anna! It is indeed a luxury to have the time to write. For me reading enhances life, it makes me see things differently and opens my eyes. I love it! 🙂

  42. Hi,
    I love reading. I was a reader before I was a writer, my love for words were born from reading and it’s also taught me to appreciate myself as a writer more because people like us (writers) have created new worlds, we’ve afforded others the power to travel through time, we’ve healed people, we’ve helped give others a voice, we’ve shared ourselves and those can only be experienced through reading. So reading is important dammit! 😂…

  43. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sorry for my late reply, you know, life happens.
    Like you, I adore reading. I have to remind myself that I can read to hone my craft as well.

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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