It’s said that there are two ways to improve your writing: to write more, and to read more. Both is sure to affect your writing skills, but does it carry the other way as well – and if yes, how?
Now, I won’t offer a simple answer because, as many things in writing, the result can be very subjective (and I’ll welcome your experience and opinions). All I can do is to explore how I changed.
It probably doesn’t kick in right away
Some people might be born writers, going for it since their youth. I was not. It took me a long time just to start reading in English (which is not my native language), but from there, it took a fast spiral to writing in English.
Yet, as I was beginning with both, I wasn’t as sensitive to issues, whether made by me when writing, or made by others in their books.
It was only when I got the first draft done and got to read through it that I started noticing issues – and even that took several stages to get my sensitivity to at least half-useful level. At it was only during the early beta stages when I realized how messy my writing still is in all aspects.
Typo-free book doesn’t exist
This is one thing we can probably take as the universal truth here. It’s just not possible. Even books that went through an experienced, professional editor will likely have a typo somewhere. Sure, I’ve only read a bit over 100 books (over the past 5 years) but I’ve noticed at least one typo in each.
Now, I don’t want to bash anyone by this mention – what I want to do is to point out that stressing out about perfection is pointless. Sure, that’s not an excuse to skip a good editing (even if only self-done or with the help of beta readers) – definitely do your best. But don’t blow it out of proportion.
It’s a part of learning curve
Reading and writing are tied together. Reading books in the genre you’re writing gives you a better understanding of the genre. You see stories, and through them, plot threads. You can then try and think about which of them worked and why, what made them interesting etc.
Thus, being a writer can mean you’ll get more analytic when it comes to reading. A good thing if you can use it for your own progress. But it can also lead to being overly analytic while reading and thus not enjoying the story as much. Useful when beta-reading (because you want to help the author to figure out what works /or not/ and why) but it may affect the joy you get from pleasure reading – and a sign you might need a break before that joy dwindles even further and impacts your writing.
It may affect your book choices
Some people can be very specific about the books they’ll read – down to only one or two very specific subgenres. Some people read across several genres.
When writing, you might slide closer to the (sub-)genre of your own work in desire to hone your craft. That’s definitely not bad – it can lead you to guess what your target audience might be by looking at the target audience of those books, in addition to what was said above about learning by examples from the same (sub-)genre.
However, you might want to consider weaving something else then and now, to avoid fatigue.
There’s probably something else that didn’t come to my mind – so I’ll more than welcome your observations. Is there some specific way writing affected your approach to reading books, in any way? Feel free to share.