Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Read the Damn Book (#IWSG October 2019)

Warning: This Month's Optional Question inspired a bit of a rant. I apologise in advance.

October 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 to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

"It's been said" that writing without reading is a good idea? By who? That's terrible advice.

(To be fair, 90% of all writing advice is terrible, so statistically speaking it checks out. Also, there's a 90% chance that everything I say below is complete and utter garbage.)

I don't believe you can write without reading. Reading will make you a better writer. Period. Reading will provide you new ideas, not just for content but in style and substance. Whether you learn new things to do, or things you shouldn't do, you can always gain something from reading. I find the most formulaic, boring writing comes from people who don't read, because they have limited ideas of what a story is supposed to look like. They keep writing it the same way over and over again.

I'm a just leave this here.

I firmly believe there are no new ideas. In the thousands of years humanity has been writing stories (and tens of thousands they have been sharing them orally), everything has been said. You are not going to come up with a new idea for your first-ever self-published supernatural YA cozy romance mystery. But there are other ways to say the same things, other ways to express similar ideas, new settings and ways to deconstruct themes. You can tell stories with your voice, with your perspective. But in order to do that, you need to learn other people's voices, to learn about other themes, from different writers, different perspectives, different times, different cultures. You can't bake a cake without multiple ingredients. Writing without reading other people's ideas is like trying to make cupcakes with only a bag of flour.

Some people might be into it, I guess?

Tangential Anecdote Time: It's in my bio and I mention it from time to time, but I have a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts. I originally wanted to be an actor. One of the (many) reasons I didn't pursue acting is because I hated the way my school taught performance. They encouraged everyone to be edgy and creative and "true to themselves." The number one lesson was "Break all the rules." The only problem was that they didn't teach us the rules. There was no basic instruction on how to project in front of an audience, how to interpret text in performance, or even how to tell a coherent story. How can you deconstruct something that you don't know how to construct in the first place? I watched so much experimental, weird performance in that class, and so much of it was terrible. There was broken glass, raw meat, gratuitous nudity, fake blood, simulated masturbation, impromptu make-out sessions with strangers and more (I did three of those myself in a single piece; I'll let you guess which ones). The people that came in with a background in Theatre, or that were just really naturally talented, could pull it off and do interesting stuff, but the rest of us were lost and just making horseshit. We thought (and were told) that we were imaginative and creative but we didn't have a fucking clue what we were doing, and no one would watch our shows that weren't forced to sit through them as part of class. It's the exact same reason there are so many terrible self-published books out there on Amazon.

Conclusion: Writing without reading is like pretending to masturbate in theatre class.

I think I'm going to put that on a business card.


OCTOBER IS FINALLY HERE! HALLOWEEN SEASON! Know what that means? Yes, dentists are rubbing their hands in greedy anticipation, but also...


Once again, the lovely and talented Miss Patricia Lynne/Josephine will be hosting Trick-or-Treat reads, an awesome blog hop where anyone can join to give or get free books on October 31! 

Authors, sign up to give out free books! Find new readers and get your books into appreciate hands!

Readers, all you have to do is go through the list on Halloween and grab any freebies that you're interested in!

The list of participating blogs/authors is below. Authors sign up any time between now and October 31. 

Be sure to check out Patricia's blog as well, for full details and just because she's an awesome person.

Until next time!
Hugs & Kisses,

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent point! You have to know what you're doing before you can deviate and do something different.
I can only imagine which three you did. Sounds like that class gave you enough fodder for multiple crazy stories. Real life truly is weirder than fiction.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I know people live without reading, but even that seems unimaginable to me. Too bad that you got no guidance when you were involved in theater.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Great concluding quote! A writing teacher said, "You must know the rules first, then you'll know how to break them."
Sounds like a weird theater class.
Happy IWSG Day!
Mary at Play off the Page

Anonymous said...

Preach it, brother! Oh wait, I'm part of the chior. So right about "new" and "original." I prefer entertaining or thought-provoking. Well-written would be nice, too (and it's not just self-pubbed books anymore churning out crap).

Your theater class seems to be teaching the theories that have made society in general a rather unpleasant place to inhabit these days. Being "true to yourself" is a highly overrated philosophy.

Sadira Stone said...

Oh my! Your theater (or theatre, or--for the truly pretentious, thea-tah) experience would make a marvelous novel! Will you write it! Couldn't agree more, by the way. Happy writing in October.

Caitlin Coppola said...

I'm not sure what you did in theatre class, but whatever it was, I'm certain it was interesting. (something with blood maybe?) And yes, I totally agree that you need to read in order to write. Because who's going to eat those flour-only cupcakes? Gross.

Liza said...

I only wish you might have considered taking acting classes elsewhere...but you are 100% correct about writing (and acting). You have to learn before you can "do."

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Love it! Yep, we said the same thing, only you did it with more... drama? Your theater classes sound even worse than the creative writing classes I took, where we all worked so hard to out-angst each other :p So hard for some of us to find a legit reason for that, you know.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

And I need to decide and then do TTR, and help get the word out there. It’s just... oh, heck, I’ve got internet and a computer for a few days. I can do this.

Judy Ann Davis said...

I have had people say to me that they don't read. Egads, I think. But I'm off the subject. Good writers are many times voracious readers. Like you pointed out, there are no new ideas--just creative alterations of them. Nice post!

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