Shall I Get On With My writing – Or Just Read That Book?

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Like most writers I’m a voracious reader.  I’ve read all my life and have no intention of stopping now – unless my eyesight suddenly packs in. Then, of course, there are always audio books . . .

So what’s the problem?

Well, the problem is that if I get into a really good book, I just want to read until I’ve finished it. Not a good thing when my second novel is sitting there, just waiting for the last couple of chapters to finish it off.

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I’ve just had a great holiday in Malta, as my last post showed, doing all the things I enjoy. I love the sunshine and swimming aspects of holidaying in warmer climes, but what I don’t like is inactivity. I’m one of those people who simply must be doing something. Lounging around sunbathing I can tolerate only in very short bursts, and then only with a book to read – which in itself means an overhead canopy (so no sunbathing because I can’t read in sunlight, with or without sunglasses).

But reading is never boring to me. I read three books whilst in Malta, though they weren’t great, marathon tomes, I admit.

To get back to my main issue: should a writer spend time reading when his/her own book is in progress?

My own thoughts on this . . .?  Well, yes and no.

Yes . . . because we all need some leisure time away from our work. And that is what my writing has become – a substitute for my ‘paid’ employment since retiring. I love to write, pay or no pay. And I love the theme of the trilogy I’m in the middle of. My problem arises when I have an urge to read when I should be pounding the keys on my laptop.

No . . . for obvious reasons, already touched on above. Turning to my reading when I should be writing is simply putting off focusing and applying myself to the more important or pressing task. And to be honest, I know I only do so when I hit a section of the narrative that demands a great deal of thought and application.

One final point concerns the type of books an author should read in the middle of writing – whether the author is still at the ‘would be’ stage or already published.  I write historical fiction and also love to read that genre, along with some crime novels now and then. I choose to read many books in these genres while I’m writing . . . except other novels set in the  same Viking period as my own .

Now, I love Bernard Cornwell’s writing in particular, and have read many of his books set in a variety of periods. I really enjoyed his Arthur series. But I won’t read his books about King Alfred until I’ve finished my own trilogy – also about King Alfred and the Danes. I certainly don’t want influencing by his storylines, as brilliant as I’m sure they are.  There are bound to be overlaps in some of the events during Alfred’s life, but how they are told is unique to each author.

Can’t wait to read Bernard Cornwell’s ‘Warrior Chronicles’!

And I wonder what this man would have said about all this . . .?

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William Shakespeare

A last thought from Roald Dahl:

Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people.

Time for him to read something else, perhaps . . .?  (What a great writer he was, too.

About milliethom

I am a reader and writer of historical fiction with a keen interest in the Earth's history and all it involves, both physically and socially. I like nothing better than to be outdoors, especially in faraway places, and baking is something I do when my eyes need respite from my computer screen.
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10 Responses to Shall I Get On With My writing – Or Just Read That Book?

  1. shanechall says:

    Lately I’ve been avoiding rewrites on a novel of mine in order to do other stuff like read or manage blogs. I think it’s a bad idea to accept too many distractions that tie into our main projects, because it can easily overshadow your project until you find yourself totally stopped. That’s what happened with my rewrite. I haven’t yet met a writer who doesn’t do that from time to time, but by reading this I recognize my own procrastination. It ends now.
    Thanks for this post. I’m pretty fired up now!

    • milliethom says:

      I’m so glad my post helped you to refocus on your book.It’s particularly hard to do so when you think the plot, or whatever, aren’t going the way you want. And rewriting multiple times can get frustrating. I’ve put my first book on Amazon, but I’m finding things just as tough with my second. I’ve got so little to do now to finish it, but I keep putting it off to do other things – like write another blog post! I hope you get there, Shane. You have the talent and oodles of imagination. Go for it!

  2. I think it is good to break a way, just enough to re-energise and come back to the plot. I find it hard to stop writing when I have the flow going. However, if I don’t feel like it, I walk away, straight away. I’m not a published author like you, but I hope to publish one day soon. It is good to get inspiration from writers like yourself. Thank you for this post and reading your work.

  3. M. L. Kappa says:

    I know what you mean! AAARRGGHHH- so many books (or things to write) so little time…

    • milliethom says:

      Thank you, M.L. (or is it Kappa?)
      I’m still doing lots of reading – you know the idea, ‘old habits die hard’. Unfortunately, I’m also still behind with my writing, which is nudging me closer and closer to screaming AAARRGGHHH! 🙂

  4. empathy75 says:

    I think it’s good to do something which you really like even you have things to do ( just for a short break). I usually encourage myself ” Ok, if I finish studying three pages, I will listen to music “. It makes me some motivation to continue mundane task.

    • milliethom says:

      You’re so right! It’s like the old saying, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. I love reading, and can’t go to sleep at night unless I read for a while first. The trouble is, sometimes I just want to read instead of getting my writing done. 🙂

  5. Idle Muser says:

    Though I am not an established writer yet, but I see myself in that position some day. I stated this just to let you know that when I am talking about writing, it’s mostly for my blog. 😀
    Anyhow I could relate to your point. A lot of times, when I come across an extremely good read, it becomes difficult to keep it on hold and write something of my own. So I just increase my reading time for a day or two, or simply spend an entire day with reading and not writing. It has to be like that. No other way out. 😀

    • milliethom says:

      Many people who write, or want to write, are voracious readers. I’ve read all my life and would feel something was missing if I didn’t have a book ‘on the go’. It stands to reason that avid readers should want to write their own stories, and I wish you lots of luck in getting your own started. Many people on WordPress who aspire to be authors try out the flash fiction challenges. Perhaps you do that already, but if mot, they are really good for getting feedback on your writing. As for my reading nowadays… I have to be strong and not pick up my book or Kindle during the day and just read at bedtime. It doesn’t give me long, I know, but at least it stops my own characters from playing in my head all night!
      Thank you for that interesting comment. 🙂

      • Idle Muser says:

        Thank you so much for your wishes and guidance.😊😃
        But to be honest, a 9-5 job hardly leaves me with any spare time to try flash fiction. But whatever I write, everything is open for feedbacks and constructive criticism.☺
        I don’t write just to express, but also to get feedbacks on my write-up.
        And yes reading a good book is definitely tempting. But we got to control it.😁

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