So, yeah. This post is a little late today. I have no real excuse other than having a plateful of work to do, but that’s sort of lame, so let’s just pretend I’m not late and we’ll go on with our night.
Oh, you want to know what all the work is? I’m so glad you asked. I’m attending a novel-critique workshop in August, and part of the work I need to do for it is critiquing the first fifty pages of 11 different novels. Yes, that’s a fair amount of reading, period. But reading critically is a whole different animal than reading for pleasure. It takes more time and brain space. But if you want to be a professional writer, it’s absolutely necessary to do it. Being a writer isn’t just about writing. It’s about reading and being read.
Writers love to read–it’s one of the reasons we get into the gig in the first place. We know what we like, and we might even know why we like it–great characters, awesome setting, wacky hijinks, whatever. Part of learning to write is figuring out how authors we love pulled the rabbit out of the hat, and we do that by reading critically. Another part is learning how to pull out our own rabbits, and we do that by being read critically by others.
A good, honest crit group will help you see things in your writing–good and bad–that you didn’t see before. They’ll point out your strengths and weaknesses. And when you read others, you’ll begin to notice theirs. A lot of times you’ll notice things in others that it’s been pointed out you do. Mind you, it’s not about being perfect, or about writing anyone else’s book for them, or making your book into something you didn’t intend just to please others. It’s about improving your craft. It’s about telling the best story you can.