Jessica Christine Musgrove

Author. Singer. Actress.
My King is a dragon-slayer.

Writers Relate Post # 3

Reading as Readers, Not as Writers

A few weeks ago, I realized something about myself. Ever since I started writing and editing my novel and also joined two different critique groups, my reading has been stifled. Why? Because I never allow myself to read as a reader. Every time I pick up a book, I automatically awaken the Editor Monster within and the Critic Monster, because….I’m used to it. Reading with a critical, close eye is something I’ve had to do for so long. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to just…read.

Are any of you on the same boat?

Thinking back to my years as a fourth grader, when I finally learned that reading could be fun and not just school work, I can remember fully immersing myself in the Nancy Drew Series, and I definitely wasn’t thinking, “How can that paragraph be re-worded?” or, “How can the character development be stronger?” I wasn’t noticing grammatical errors, or if I did, I didn’t care. I didn’t compare my own stories (Because I wrote stories even back then) to Nancy Drew, wondering how my book was better or worse. I just allowed myself to get lost in the story. To picture every scene in my head. To conjure the picture of Nancy, Bess, and George sleuthing in the attic or riding down the highway in Nancy’s red convertible to the elderly ladies house and exiting the car with windblown hair. I imagined what the characters’ voices would sound like. If there was a particular scene I disliked, I didn’t fret about it; I simply skimmed through and moved on to the next amazing scene!

Here’s the thing: I want to better my craft as a writer. I want to get published and one day see my books on a shelf. Any author knows that getting published traditionally or non-traditionally is no easy task. It can be seen as a competition. BUT… That shouldn’t take away from the JOY that comes from writing AND reading! Just as I’m having to learn how to creatively write a rough draft again, tranquilizing that Editor Monster, I want to learn how to let go and read for fun. For inspiration. For joy. For an adventure.

Today (Monday) is my meeting with my first Writer’s Group (a group of all men except for myself, haha). One of the members sent in his chapter for all of us to read and critique. And you know what? I forced myself to simply read it. No red pen, no notepad, no markings of any kind. This time, I read it as a reader and am prepared to go to Writer’s Group with my first impressions as a reader, not an editor!

If you struggle with this as I do, and if you’re a part of a critique group, you may want to give this a try.

I hope this will inspire you to pick a book off your bookshelf, open it to the first page, and dive in to another world, with nothing but joy to carry you down its path.

Have a great week!


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