Reader’s Block

By K. Trian

This blog post was originally published on writingforums.org, but I thought I’d share it here as well. Team T. K. Trian has been quite busy lately: still revising Solus and some of our hobbies have taken time (horses, Toni’s band), but hopefully we’ll be more productive the closer we get to autumn.

In any case, I thought I’d share this with you, interwebz.

I’m suffering of something I’ve come to call “a reader’s block” (wowsers, how clevah, K!). Anymoo, it’s like a writer’s block in the sense that I have difficulties with starting or getting back to a novel I was reading, even though I’ve enjoyed the story.

So I started to dissect this little brain defect o’ mine.

I realized that there are at least three issues that keep me from fully immersing myself into a story other than the one T.Trian and I are working on (yes, I write with a partner):

1) Plagcident

I’m afraid of finding something familiar in another writer’s novel. A plot twist, a character, something that’s similar to one or few aspects in our WIP. As if me not finding it would make these possible similarities go away! I guess it’s a matter of accidental plagiarism. But why should I even care? Everything’s been done already (“you just have to put your own spin to it, hun”). I think I’m just afraid of that crushing feeling when you realize something you thought brilliant-er than a strobo-chandelier has already been done and “recycling” it would just make you look dumber than Paris Hilton in a power suit.

2) Anal-lyzing

I seem to be going through a phase during which I’m over-analyzing everything, including this. I’ve become very anal about grammar, writing techniques, pacing, etc. so when I’m reading a novel, I catch myself (nit)picking the prose instead of enjoying the story. It’s pretty tiresome, and I guess, knowing how tiresome it is, I’ve avoided picking up novels. Especially in English.

3) Color Me Choosy

It’s been very difficult to find novels that I actually enjoy. I don’t often follow through with the recommendations from others, to be honest, unless they are really good salesmen. I use Amazon to browse reviews, but it’s fairly time-consuming because you can’t trust everything that’s said there, thanks to the relative prevalence of sockpuppets, plus some people bash books for no other reason but personal grudge or perpetual hemorrhoids. So I find myself returning to the novels I’ve read a gazillion times (and that are also safe accidental plagiarism -wise).
***

Curiously enough, I have no problem beta-reading. It’s fun. Maybe it’s more appealing because I feel like I contribute to something even though many stories I beta-read tend to have more hiccoughs than a published novel — which is understandable (our WIP doesn’t have just hiccoughs, it has effing TB).

Still, it feels like not reading as much as I used to deprives me of so many things. Partly it feels like being the only absolutist at a kegger, partly like I was that asshole player who shows up to the band practice but never practices on her own at home.

Should I worry? Should I just wait for this to pass? (it’s a phase, right, RIGHT?) Maybe I should just force myself to read more. Promise myself I have to read something new (and preferably in English) at least a little bit every evening before going to sleep, and that it has to be a novel, not a comic or a children’s book or a fitness magazine.

Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.

Truth be told, I hope I’m the only one with this reader’s block ‘cause it SUCKS, but on the other hand it would be nice to learn I’m not the only loser on the block and how others have dealt with it.

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3 thoughts on “Reader’s Block

  1. I don’t have reader’s block, (which will in turn attack me in the near future because of saying this. Oh the irony.) but I do suffer from #1 and #2 whilst reading. When it comes to plagiarism, I’ve given up caring. As you said, there’s no original ideas anymore, just how they’re strung together. For over analyzing, I can’t turn that button off. 😛

  2. Can’t say I’ve ever suffered from reader’s block, though I’ve picked up plenty of novels and started them without then finding the desire to finish them. All I can suggest is to keep trying, or maybe just keep rereading the stuff you know you like and hope you get your mojo back. Or maybe you should pick up something you *know* you’re going to hate, and it’ll spur you into finding better books! I’m sure I read 50 shades partly because it was masochistic fun to constantly find something to gripe about.

  3. Hi guys, thanks for your comments and advice =) It’s funny; writing is no problem, no block there, but when I pick up a book, stuff gets between me and the reading experience. Erica, that’s a good idea — read something I know I’ll hate! I tried 50 Shades, but I hated the FMC after five pages so much I just knew I wouldn’t be able to be a part of her story. I noticed I can immerse myself better into older works and classics, like Fitzgerald, and I was actually thinking about hitting the library and borrowing some Dumas. He’s been on my reading list forever.

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