Has Writing Ruined My Reading?

You all probably have gotten how much I love reading, maybe by the mere fact that I run a blog dedicated to it. It has consumed my life for nearly two decades, and I would be a very different person now if I had not learned how to read, or been given a love of reading by parents who constantly read to me and took me to our closest library.

However, writing also has effected my reading experience. I have been writing since I was around seven years old. It has always been part of me. And it has helped form my tastes in reading and how I read. But I have always wondered if that is truly a good thing. Recently, I saw this picture on Pinterest.

Are you a reader or a writer? It's interesting what goes on in our head when we read a book isn't it?

It made me wonder about something…is my experience as a reader being detrimentally effected because I judge a book more as a writer than a reader?

As a writer, you learn to pay attention to a lot of things that a reader wouldn’t have a reason to pay attention to. Let’s use characters as an example.

As a reader, you want good characters. You want to relate to a character, understand them, and be invested in their struggles and motivations. As a writer, however, you read to understand how the author failed or succeeded to create that good character. It is another layer, one might say, to being a reader.

But for me it is also a double-edged sword.

It is difficult for me now to simply enjoy a story as a good story because I know so much about the writing process that things which may not stand out to most readers seem glaringly obvious to me. It means it is difficult to suspend disbelief, because I am constantly asking why. Why does the magic work that way? Why did that character feel motivated to do that? Why did these two characters fall in love?

See the source image

It is the difference, perhaps, between a reader who reads because they like reading, and a writer who reads because they like writing.

Neither is wrong, of course. It is good to enjoy books for what they are, not pick them apart with rhetorical scissors. It is also good to understand why a book is good or bad, understanding nuances of phrasing, character motivation, and plot progression.

I just sometimes wish I could go back to when I was a child, enjoying a book because it was interesting and not noticing every little issue.

For those of you who are writers or simply highly-detailed people who notice different aspects of books, do you think this lessons your enjoyment of reading? Or adds a different level to it?

This is more of a musing post, I know. I’m still recovering from a bad cold which has plagued me the last couple of weeks and I honestly couldn’t bother coming up with a different post. But it’s a query that I’m wondering if I’m alone in, or others feel similarly.

Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

14 thoughts on “Has Writing Ruined My Reading?

  1. The answer to this is actually really complicated. I have another aspect of thought to this as well. For instance, I review movies on my blog. Before I started doing that, I just watch movies. A good movie is a good one, and a bad one is bad. But nowadays I feel I analyse a lot more into it. Whether it’s good or bad I don’t know I guess it’s kind of like the reference you mentioned – a double edged sword

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  2. Haha! There’s pros and cons, but as a writer, you get to dive deeply than just reading between the lines. You can “study” the author’s underlying motives or his/her dialect, environment, or era when he wrote it. Poorly written books hurts the eye, but good books might have suffered a lot of “editions” far from the author’s original story.

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  3. Ya, I get that… although, lemme drop in a dash of cynicism and say that we find faults in most books because most books suck. 😀

    Also, being a reader who notices stuff is just good, that way you can’t be fooled by sub-par writing or slimey hoaxes! I mean, if you weren’t so keen on picking out nuances and figuring out the motivations behind the words, you’d get suckered by fake news and ads all the time…

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  4. I love that Pinterest picture. I agree that it is difficult for a writer to switch off that constant analytical bulb in the head that points defects in a book or praises it from the critic’s point of view. I have a very similar experience when watching movies because previously I reviewed them and I now cannot enjoy them normally since I always want to criticise something or think what the director had in mind or whether actors did a good job or not.

    I think this situation is similar to a person who got to know all the magicians’ tricks and how they are performed, their secrets and then starts going on magic shows. One cannot enjoy them fully because on the back of their mind there is always these realisations – “I know how that was done!” or “I know what they have done so that I now feel thrilled!”.

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    1. Interesting analogy…similar to how the magic is lost if you know how the magic trick is done, some of the magic is lost if you know how a book or movie is made. I’m glad I’m not the only one with this problem.

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  5. I’ve sometimes been accused of nitpicking anime and other stories because I find faults in writing all the time. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad idea. The stories we remember are the stories that have good writing to back them up and support them. You can have the best story in the world, and people will not like it because of how you told it. It all comes down to execution.

    This is why I don’t understand the idea behind the argument: “it’s about the story, not how it’s written.” Yes, it should be about the story, but a story can be weighed down by bad writing. If you didn’t write the story in a clear, coherent, comprehensible, and creative way, I’m sorry, but your writing is bad and you need to do better.

    I can’t escape critiquing writing because writing is practically my job. It’s part of my education and professional training to write clearly and concisely, be it for a piece of fiction or for a client. I say if you are able to spend your life honing your skills as a writer, expecting good writing in stories isn’t too much to ask.

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  6. I think it speaks (badly) of my personality that I find myself constantly rewriting other authors’ sentences/paragraphs in my head. It’s the rare author where I’m able to relax my writer brain and enjoy the story; I’m forever picking apart wording, analyzing character arcs, etc. I wouldn’t say writing has ruined my reading per se, but it’s definitely made me raise my personal standards for a “five-star read.” Ugh, I sound like such a snob. >.>

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  7. As a new writer, I have not learned yet the intricacies of writing, so the books I read are still great to me. But, as I learn more about the craft, I expect that my tastes will change. Over time, I became a memoir reader when all I used to read was fiction. Thanks for giving me the heads up.

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