Sunday, January 25, 2009

Writing Like a Reader

I'm sure you've heard of reading like a writer... today I'd like to talk about writing like a reader.

Here's how I read:

1. I read novels for kids. Therefore I write novels for kids.

2. If I'm reading a book and not totally in love with it, I'll stop. I definitely don't have to finish something just because I started it. The same goes for my writing. I write about 50 pages of a new novel before I realize I don't want to write it (usually), or I am absolutely compelled to finish it (rarely... exactly twice in my life).

3. If a book is suspenseful, I will stay up way too late to finish it. Or I might blow off everything on my to-do list to read it, with the rationalization that reading is part of my job. Similarly, I've found I need to create suspense when I'm writing. And my recent experiment with being a NYNNie taught me how to do that. I simply didn't allow myself to check e-mail, Facebook, or anything on the Internet until I had finished writing 2000 words each day. The suspense of wondering what e-mails were waiting for me kept me glued to my desk, writing like a fiend. With this strategy, it only took me a week (instead of my usual 3-4 months) to figure out I didn't want to write my new novel.

4. When I'm reading a book, I'm constantly thinking about where the author is going, how he or she is playing with my emotions, what might come next. When I'm writing, I often pretend to be a reader. I literally imagine turning the pages of my book, seeing what would come next if the story were finished.

5. I love books that make me laugh or cry. Books that show regular kids growing up and seeing themselves and the world in a new light. My aim, always, is to write books like that.

2 comments:

Kaylie said...

2000 words a day...that's 8 pages. Wow, I am totally in admiration that you can write that much. I think you probably have to be really enjoying what you're writing to keep it up for that long every day. It's a good idea, though. If you give yourself a minimum, there aren't as many excuses for not writing.

Brenda Ferber said...

Actually you don't have to like what you're writing. You just have to lay down the law and make yourself do it with the faith that no matter how bad it is, you know you can go back and revise it later to make it better.