Reading Habits Of Great Writers
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Every writer has their own habits to fall back on when a scene is stuck, or a character is acting out of character.
Often we rely on a ritual or behavior to help us remember what we're supposed to be doing in the scene.
I've found that when I read a book, I'm much more likely to stick with the story if I notice the author using a certain mental process to get through their novel.
Telling is one of the most essential skills a writer can learn, yet it's so easy to forget to be concise.
After all, we're reading to escape reality and enjoy a story, not to analyze it in our minds and try to figure out how it was written.
So if we can read a novel and come away knowing what the author was thinking while writing, it'll help with our own writing!
So let's discuss a few habits some of the great writers in history have had, and how we can incorporate them into our own writing:
With over 20 novels under his belt and numerous short stories, Haruki Murakami seems to have figured out how to write a novel and simultaneously enjoy it as a reader.
I've noticed a few different habits in his books that help him immensely with his writing process.
First of all, he uses a fantastic method for organization.
Instead of beginning a new book and tackling it like a traditional author, he usually decides what genre he'll be writing in and decides what he wants to write about.
Then he just starts writing.
As for actually writing, he has a practice he calls Gungha-Me: A Situation Without Character or Goal.
Essentially it's an act of fiction wherein a writer imagines a scene that happens, without even knowing what's happening in it.
This helps to create an unexpected narrative that keeps the reader engaged and surprised throughout the novel.
On a side note, Murakami's tendency to write weird, weird, weird things often has to do with his OCD tendencies.
According to an article in The Atlantic, Murakami was the second one picked for his elementary school class, but he was so awful at Japanese he wasn't selected again until he sat and studied a new set of Japanese language lessons.
Perhaps that's part of the reason why his books seem so random and confusing.
George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin is another author that likes to experiment and mix genres in his novels.
While he sticks to fantasy and science fiction in his most famous works, such as Game of Thrones, he's done some amazing work in other genres, such as the sexually explicit vampire novel (a la Interview With A Vampire) True Blood, and the post-apocalyptic epic A Song Of Ice And Fire series (like The Lord of the Rings), which is what his series of novellas The Night Lands are based on.
He often picks up a new genre and writes it from scratch for his novels, such as A Dance With Dragons, which he was first supposed to write as a science fiction novel about a future Earth that has been ravaged by war.
Ultimately, he tries to keep himself un-trusted in his writing process. When working on his novels, he usually sticks to a single technique that allows him to flow freely and doesn't feel constricting.
He's also willing to tell people that he tends to write his books in a vague or convoluted manner, which is extremely important to him.
This allows him to view writing as a process instead of a rigid or narrow approach, which allows him to branch out with each new book.
Anne Rice is a horror and romance novelist who's achieved some incredible success as a writer.
She has written over 50 novels in her career and even went on to write The Vampire Chronicles, which she wrote for over 20 years.
She is known for her many unique writing techniques and special features such as written forms of cards (Jack the Ripper), storytelling from diary entries (Interview With A Vampire), and even a spell to turn a woman into a vampire (Interview With A Vampire).
On top of that, she was also one of the first major horror authors to use vivid and gruesome descriptions for their stories. In The Vampire Chronicles, her vampires bleed and stink and breathe through their mouths.
It's clear from the writing that Rice has many different writing styles in her books, such as her "Rites of Passage" style (a series of three books based on the three phases of becoming a vampire), which is perhaps her most known.
Many fans credit this writing style as one of her most important contributions to modern horror literature and many of her other books have adopted similar techniques.
William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs is a writer who is known for his eclectic approach to the genre of fiction.
In his novels, you'll find non-fiction, post-modernism, abstract short stories, classic short stories, short stories that focus on the reader's point-of-view, and even autobiographical writing.
Even though he uniquely approaches the genres of literature, he does so in a very literal and natural way.
He writes in a way that feels very natural for him, which can also make for a really weird and unnatural reading experience.