Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Percolation and reading (Beyond the Words - 3)

I've been collecting some ideas from Bonni Goldberg's book Beyond the Words about percolating — all the stuff we do to prepare for writing, as well as the in-between-draft to final draft thinking and working through of our ideas.

Here are some quotes from Chapter 3 on reading and the part it plays in the percolation process:

"Reading... is a time-honoured means of immersing yourself in the receptive state that percolating is all about." - p. 27.

"Learning from the writings of others is a legitimate and necessary form of mentorship." - p. 28.

"Often what ignites our urge to write in the first place is what we read. Many people begin to write because they've been inspired by someone else's writing." p. 28.

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My thoughts:

As I see it, there are two kinds of reading. There is reading for fact and mental inspiration. And there is reading for style and creative inspiration.

When I am reading as a non-fiction writer I most often read in the first way — to gather information and facts or to absorb a viewpoint or way of thinking about a problem. When I read for this, I usually need to take notes.

When I read as a creative writer (of poetry or fiction) I am more interested in the author's style, voice, and word usage. This is the kind of reading that ignites my urge to write. It's hard to take notes for this kind of reading. I do tend to mark up the text though, which is a nice thing about e-readers — at least my Kindle. For I can easily highlight parts and when I want to get back to them, they're all in a tidy list which I can even email to myself.

I would say one more thing about reading, especially as it relates to my devotional writing. More times than I can count, I have read something one day and a few days later used an idea or a quote from it in the meditation which I am writing. I feel sometimes like I'm a channel through which God is pouring inspiration, and reading is crucial in this.

I'd love to hear how reading contributes to your writing process.

Other posts in this series.

4 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

Reading is definitely one of my best percolators. :) And going outside.

violet said...

Thanks for visiting, L.L. I'm with you on both those. Which reminds, me, I need to get your book, God in the Yard!

CallingForth said...

I like the quote that reading is a "form of mentorship" because I have been mentored/formed through writers who verbalize what I think but cannot put into words - because, alas, I am not a writer!!

violet said...

Oh, but my friend, you are a wonderful writer! I have so enjoyed Calling Forth since you opened it!

I completely agree about being mentored by the written words of others. I love the time for soaking in and reflection that reading gives.