For Mother’s Day this year, my wonderful husband bought me a tiny little Dell mini laptop that fits in my purse.
He was tired of hearing me whine about how little time I have to write and – being a man – he went into solution mode and decided that if I had a tiny little computer I could get some writing done during my hour-long commute on the train to and from work each day.
It was great for a little while. I would get my seat, power up my new little friend and I could get 500 words down before we pulled into the station downtown. The problem was that the time on the train that I was now using for writing was time that I used to use for reading. I thought that I had just been filling in empty time with all that reading – but I was wrong.
Turns out that I write better when I’m reading a lot. I read almost exclusively books in the genre that I write (women’s fiction) so with all the reading I do on the train every day, I get to see how other writers are handling story structure and character development. I also read like a writer so when a book makes me cry in front of my fellow commuters, I think about what the author did to get that reaction out of me. When I’m board with a book and ready to move on to something else, I think about why it’s not working for me. I also get to see techniques that other writers use to weave their story and often find myself thinking, You can do that!?!
I learn so much from reading and I can see the effects in my writing.
I found that while it was great to get those extra words in on my WIP every day, my writing was actually suffering. I was missing the inspiration and insight that I had been getting from my daily reading.
So, for now the laptop stays at home and when I get into my seat on the train I pull out a novel instead.
Do you find that it helps you to read while you’re working a writing project? If so, do you try to read in the genre in which you write?