I’ve been complaining and somewhat bummed recently after reading a string of poorly written and unsatisfying self-published books. I love reading and so each book I invest my time into that isn’t exciting, gripping, or at the very least, interesting is a huge letdown.
Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is that I’ve read three books in a row these past couple of weeks that are excellent, that drew me in, that I didn’t want to put down. So what’s the bad news in that?
The downside of reading good writing
The bad news is that all of this great writing has depressed me in a different way. Instead of feeling bummed that I wasted my time, now I’m a little discouraged because these writers are SO much better than me. I want to write stories that are that great, that draw readers in so powerfully, that make you (as the reader) feel like you are the main character experiencing the excitement of the story.
Why you should read both good and bad writing
There’s benefits to reading both good and bad writing. You learn from both, either what or what not to do.
- Different strengths: What’s interesting from these three great books I read recently is that very few authors are great at everything. Some are masters at setting or description, others are brilliant at pacing or plot, and still others are great at deep point of view character inner-dialogue.
- Resurrect dead writing: Reading poorly written passages really helps me see why something isn’t working. Frankly, it’s more useful than reading great writing because it is very easy to read bad writing and not get into the story or characters (by definition).
- Read as a writer: Reading good and bad writing with a critical eye, consciously thinking about what is working what isn’t, why it is or isn’t, noticing a great passage or cringing at a terrible paragraph makes me a better writer.
A New Motivation
After the initial wave of depression passed over me when I read these great books because of my own inadequacy as a writer, then the competitive side of me took over and I couldn’t be more excited to rise to the challenge. I know I have it in me to write great work. My writing continues to get better and I work on it every day and am more excited than ever to take things to the next level!