Congratulations to all of you who survived NaNoWriMo! Even if you didn't finish your novel, you still pushed yourself to write and achieved good, daily writing habits. That's so awesome and don't let them fade away.
Now the holidays are coming up and usually that means family, food, and no time to write. But, lots of time to read! I don't know about you, but I have been starving for a good book lately and am planning to spend most of my down time during Christmas curled up by the fire reading for hours. If you decide to do the same, don't feel guilty that you are neglecting your writing. Everyone needs a chance to recharge and the best way to do that is to fill your time with reading.
You've probably heard teachers and professors say that reading will help you get better at writing, and I'm here to tell you that it's definitely shown to be true in my life. But there's more to it than just reading through a book and absorbing the author's talents through osmosis. Look at it this way, when you read a book don't just be a passive audience, be a student and have the attitude that you are learning from a master.
The first step to doing that is to pay attention. When I read, I try to pay attention to these specific things:
Learning from a master means recognizing what other authors are doing right, but it also means realizing when they've missed the mark. Don't ignore the things that bother you in books that you read. Knowing what to avoid or finding ways to improve something is just as helpful as practicing things done well.
Ask yourself: Why does the main character rub me the wrong way? Why am I not able to connect to them? What's missing in the story world? Why is the plot not keeping me engaged? Why does the prose or dialogue drag?
If you're a journaler like me, then I highly recommend keeping a book journal. I read a lot and it helps me to remember everything that I've learned. It doesn't have to be an intensive documentation of every book you've ever read and every feeling or thought you had while reading. Mine is pretty simple and entries take a paragraph at the most. If you're interested, this is how I use my book journal:
There you have it! Go buy yourself a new journal (you deserve an early Christmas present), pick up a book, and start learning from a master.
Hi, I'm Jessica! I'm on a mission to make my writing better in hopes of becoming a published novelist. It's been a crazy journey so far as I learn the twists and turns of the publishing world, but it's been worth it. Though I'm still learning how to be the best writer I can be, I'm excited to share what I learn with you. Happy writing!