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.