Is Reading Actually Work?

Hello, hello!  I recently asked people on my personal Facebook account for advice on what to ramble about on here, whether they had questions for me, etc.  So far, I’ve received four ideas, which I will address in this and future posts.  But first, I wanted to invite anyone who reads this to send me suggestions or questions or just random comments!  You can do it here on the blog or Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

You have questions, yes? Art by Heise (Lian Yan Fang)

The topic I’m going to address today comes from my dad.  Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my time reading instead of writing, and he randomly asked me if reading was part of my work.  I had to pause, and formulate a satisfactory answer.  He just wanted a yes or no.  Unfortunately, I had to re-convince myself.  It’s something I’ve thought of before and I consistently arrive at the same conclusion, but I always feel kind of weird saying yes, simply because I enjoy reading.  No one actually enjoys “work,” right?  So, how can reading be work?  It is.  I think.

The more I think about jobs, the more I realize that they’re constantly changing, and people have to study to keep on top of it all.  It’s not far-fetched for companies to keep an eye on the competition (also known as other companies).  Well, in the writing field, your “competition” is other writers!  What better way to keep track of what everyone else is doing than by reading their stuff?  At least that’s how I rationalize reading current authors.  It’s studying!  It’s not my fault that my studying involves zombies and werewolves and fun stuff like that.

And anime/manga. I get to study that too.

Actually, studying applies to basically all of my reading.  When I read the classics, I’m studying form or the craft or whatever you want to call it.  That pretty much goes along with any author, current or past.  I blame Stonecoast.  I used to read just for fun, but once I had to focus on certain aspects (characterization, pace, diction, the list goes on), it took over my entire reading life.  I can no longer open a book without noticing parts of the craft that the author excels at (or fails miserably at).  In that way, reading definitely gets tedious if I don’t enjoy the story enough to override all of that.  Those books are most certainly work, but I can’t forget that I get something from every book.  I learn things.  That sounds like good work to me.

One last reason that reading is work for a writer is actually the most obvious.  Writing often requires knowledge outside of the author’s wheel house.  This means they have to study those things, and if they can’t do so with a more hands on approach, they have to read about them.  For example, I write about serial killers every so often.  One way I prep for such stories is to brush up on psychology.  Granted, I studied the field in undergrad, but terms are always changing and I know very little compared to people who spent years studying it.  I do this because I get irked by authors who obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.  So, if you’re writing about something and only have a vague idea how it works, please go read up on it.  Google makes this fairly easy.

It’s not wrong.

So, what does all of this mean?  Basically, there’s more to writing than just the words you put on the page.  It requires studying, which means it requires reading.  It’s all part of a writer’s job.  At least that’s my take on it.  What do you think?

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