Readers block

Tracee: Do you ever have ‘readers’ block? If you do…. what do you do about it? Susan: I have found there are times in my life that have been incredibly stressful when I’ve been unable to process the word on the page. Watching Law & Order has pulled me through some harrowing moments. But there are some authors, such as Dickens and Agatha Christie, who offer such comfort that they pull me into the story. Paula: The times in my life where books did not comfort me are few and decades between. That said, I read for a living. And what I read is mostly unpublished, projects which typically need revising and editing and polishing. So reading becomes work, as I articulate what issues each story has and how the writer might address those issues. Therefore I occasionally suffer from reader’s fatigue. The only cure for that is to read something fabulous that’s already published, preferably by one of my favorite authors. This way I not only banish my reader’s fatigue, I also remind myself how high the bar is for publication. Writers who hit that bar are the ones I want to represent! Tracee: Watching Law and Order must be a universal stress reliever. My father would fall asleep to Law and Order after particularly stressful days in the ER. We thought it was bizarre until realizing that the soothing voices, lack of any real need to ‘watch’, and knowledge that justice would prevail was soothing. No wonder it’s been on TV for decades! Susan: Paula makes a really good point (as always)!  I also read for a living and I always read my students’ manuscripts twice. Once to get a sense of what it’s about and once to make a critique. Sometimes that second read is really tough to do. Susan Robin: I think I’m one of the last people on Earth who’s never seen a full episode of CSI, Law & Order, or NCIS. I’m not sure why, really. I love me some police procedurals but I guess I’ve been busy watching Rizzoli & Isles (which I was very sad to see end) and Elementary instead. Anyway, “reader’s block” is a new term to me. Although I’m obviously a fan of suspense and thrillers, I do get to a point after reading 3 or 4 in a row when I’ll seek out a palate cleanser so I’ll turn to another genre. Once I’m halfway through an out-of-my-own-genre book I’ll discover the titles I’m drawn to end up containing a mystery of some sort –   Little Fires Everywhere, The Hate U Give, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette all jump to mind.  Tracee: Sometimes I can’t read for pleasure because every word makes me think I should get back to writing. Does that happen to anyone else? Robin: Tracee, when I’ve felt that I remind myself that reading for pleasure is part of the writing process. Basically, I give myself permission. Alexia: Tracee,I sometimes compare myself to authors I read for pleasure (and I don’t always come out on the short end of the writing stick 😉)–then I remind myself that I’m reading for pleasure and I force myself to stop analyzing every word and to just enjoy it. And, yes, I sometimes hesitate to pick up a book (or to finish one) because I feel I should be writing one instead. I read policy memos, regulations, and directives for work. Rules and Regs-overload does sometimes make it hard for me to pick up reading material when I get home, even though what I read at home has nothing to do with what I read at work. Mostly, the stress and aggravation of reading official documents that make less sense than the worst penny dreadful make me too agitated to sit down to read a good book. When that happens, I watch crime shows (yes, Law and Order is a favorite, although I prefer the Criminal Intent spin-off. Midsomer Murders is another fave. I watch a few of the episodes over and over and over for the same reason Tracee’s dad watched Law and Order–soothing voices, no need to pay real attention because I know the lines by heart, and the knowledge justice will prevail) and science fiction movies. I also listen to paranormal and true crime podcasts. Then I try to find a book in a genre I don’t read often (i.e., not crime fiction) to ease me back into the reading groove. Alison: I second what all of you have said. I try to keep up with what’s going on in mystery/suspense, so I have at least two books on that front that I’m reading at any one time. I have a soft spot in my heart for self-help books. I’ve read books on hygge when the Danish art of keeping cozy was all the rage and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. My love of BBC mystery shows knows no bounds…I feel about them the way Lily Bollinger does champagne: I watch them when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I watch them when I have reader’s block and when I don’t! Cate: I tend to read most psychological and domestic thrillers in the top 25 so I understand the market. Since I consider it a form of work, I don’t really get readers block. After I binge on my market books, I’ll read something literary or, at least, not a murder mystery, to exorcise the voices of other characters. I don’t read when I am writing, which I guess is a form or reader’s block. I am too afraid of subconsciously adopting another author’s tone or style.  Tracee: Thanks all…. I would replied sooner but I was too busy reading (for pleasure!) Right now I’m enjoying The Alice Network…..soon to finish…. 

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