Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do You Spend More Time Writing Or Reading?

USA!! USA!!

Wow. Still not over that miracle goal at basically the last possible second. So excited!!

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

For today's You Tell Me, a question and hopefully conversation starter: do you spend more time writing or do you spend more time reading?

And is one or the other better or more important?

Be honest!







194 comments:

Locusts and Wild Honey said...

Writing. Always writing.

But I think reading is really important too.

Writing just takes longer.

Natalie Whipple said...

I spend more time writing, but only because I have limited time between kids, cleaning, church, husband, etc. When it comes to free time I only have so much, and if I want to get a book written that's when it happens.

I am always reading something, though, as slow as I may go.

hegemonster said...

I probably spend more time writing, but that's because I'm constantly jotting down my thoughts. When I'm in the middle of a fascinating book I will read nonstop-- it's hard for me to put down a great read.

Em Hof said...

I think it depends. For me it changes every day. Now, it's more writing than reading, but other times I may read more (like when I get sucked into books). But I'm always reading.

Alan Orloff said...

Writing.

zarkia said...

Writing most definitely. I spend up to 8/9 hours writing. I only read fiction for about half an hour at night.

kd easley said...

I spend more time reading when I'm doing edits, and writing when I'm working on something new. I reward my writing time by promising myself I'll get to read when I've reached my goal.

SM Schmidt said...

Writing. Summer is for writing, reading is during the semester when I have less free time.

Aoibheall said...

I go through phases - when I'm in the middle of a project, I am totally devoted to writing. But when I'm in an editing phase or taking a break, I'm knocking down my "to read" list. My husband reads to me on long car trips when I'm not listening to audio books. I probably read 30-40 books a year (including those I go back and re-read) because I'm always in the middle of at least 4 or 5.

Valerie said...

Writing for sure. I give myself an hour or so in the evening to read before bed - more if I can't put the book down, but most of my free time is spent writing. I miss the days when I spent hours reading!

Reena Jacobs said...

I absolutely love reading. I used to reward myself with reading once I met a writing goal. Then I realized I was just making myself miserable. With so much to do, I just don't have as much time to read these days though. I still dedicate myself to finishing one book or novella a week though.

As for writing, I think it depends on if you include editing as part as writing. Does blogging count? Kidding. On a weekly average, I probably spend more time editing/revising/writing than reading. If not, then it's likely an even match up.

Casey Lybrand said...

I spend way more time writing right now. I'm in the first draft stage, and the writing is fast and furious. I write most days (weekends, too) for at least an hour. Some days it is much more.

On days when I only write for an hour, I read as well. When I write a lot more than that, I'm too worn out to read.

I love reading! I miss reading when I don't do it. But the writing is too compelling at this point. Other things get pushed aside.

Awriter said...

Gotta say writing. I'm always writing something, whether its my WIP or some random ideas I have. I am always writing.

But I read a lot too actually, somedays I'll read for days straight and tear through my TBR pile like its a jar of cookies and I'm the cookie monster (back when he was actually allowed more than one cookie per show :( ) but I can also go for days like that when I am really into what I am writing.

I guess it kind of works out pretty evenly then for me.

Amanda Sablan said...

Writing, because it's easier for me to concentrate on that rather than reading. That said, I do think reading AND writing everyday is important for a writer. The more you read, the better your writing will become because you will have taken in so much from someone else's work, whether it be ideas, inspiration, or just a passion for the written word.

Nicole said...

Writing - though I'd love 26-hour days so I could fit in more reading time!

writermorris said...

Ooh, this varies dramatically. When I'm really in the zone writing, I don't read. Too focused on trying to get it all down while maintaining the little things like eating and sleeping and work and reminding my husband I still know he exists. But when I am editing, or just brainstorming for a story, I read far more than I write. Partially yes, because is it more fun at that point. But also because it helps me focus on what I want to write.

Heidi Norrod said...

It's a tough call for me. I always have a paperback in my shoulder bag and read everywhere I am waiting, even long grocery store lines. However, if I am at home- I write like it's going out of style. I guess I'm weird. :)

Chibi said...

Most likely reading. I'm unemployed, so I can spend hours upon hours devouring books I've gotten from the library. I feel like it helps keep my mind in shape when I'm not doing much else, so I don't feel as sluggish as I might otherwise. I probably could devote more time to writing, and I do struggle with that, but I also love to read so it's hard.

Cori said...

I am so bad. I know writers should write something every day, but sometimes if I don't feel the urge to say anything, I don't even turn on the computer. My solution to the down-time is to open a book. Honestly, I would guess that if I timed both reading and writing over the course of a year, the findings would be that they are pretty much equal.

Another reason: reading is good for writers. Every time I pick up a book, especially by an author that I haven't read before, I learn something new. It's true. When you read, pay attention!

Suze said...

I so badly want to say that I spend all my available time writing... but... not so much. I read a lot in my genre, even books that I don't like the sound of - just so I get a good all round feel for what I should be writing. Sometimes I even spend time reading about the craft of writing... and that's when I know I've hit the snooze button too many times and I actully get my bum in the seat to write :)

Sheila said...

Go USA!

I was certain we were going to get robbed again. That goal was amazing! What a game.

Oh, and I spend more time reading.

Anne said...

I'm about equal right now. As I prepare to query I have found myself with two books on loan. So half my time is spent typing away and the other half with my nose in a book.

Nathan Bransford said...

Poll added!

And for me it's way way way more time reading. That has a lot to do with my job though.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I read about writing a lot...but write more.

I read for pleasure and to learn from other writers, more so now that we're in the summer and I have actual down time.

Andrea Brokaw said...

I'm always thinking about my writing, but I spend more time actively reading. For one thing, it makes me happy. For another, it helps me figure out what to write. My approach isn't all recreational, I'm frequently picking apart technique and such, and so I consider reading widely and frequently to be a part of my writing life as well as a hobby.

Note, there are times when this isn't true, times when I can barely get myself away from my keyboard long enough to fix dinner or take a shower. However, overall it is certainly the case.

Becca said...

I really couldn't say one is more important than the other. BOTH are enjoyable. And I think to be a truly great writer, you need to spend a good amount of time reading. What better way to absorb "what works" along with "what's already been done"?

I spend time on both. Sometimes I spend more time reading, because I'm absorbed in a good book or because it's easier to read with surrounding distractions than it is to write.

Other times, I'm very inspired to write and have the quiet I need to focus.

I see writing as a career (even though I'm not paid yet lol) so it's something I make time to do every day. Because I think reading is important to growth as a writer (and because I plain LOVE reading) I make time to read every day too.

So, sometimes I do more of one that the other, but I'm always doing both, and in the end I think it balances out.

What surprises me is how many writers out there DON'T read, or don't read much. Maybe they don't see the importance as much as I do.

That said, I can often tell by reading someone's work if they are an avid reader or not. Those who read a lot seem to have an edge above the rest. Except me, lol, but I have to admit I didn't take to reading a lot until recently (read a lot when I was younger, but not much as an adult)

But now that I'm reading more, I find it helps with my writing.

And did I mention it's fun? (writing is too, but writing is fun work. reading is just a fun something-to-do-and-get-lost-in)

I'm gonna guess your overall verdict will be people write more than they read. I recently opened up a book giveaway on my blog, Most of the people I know are writers. Not many of them have entered. I'm like, hey! it's FREE. And it's an AWESOME book. You could really learn a lot about writing just by reading from a writer like this one.

But it's drawn in more non-writing readers, so that's good. My question is, do writers dislike reading that much? They don't even want to read a bestselling novel even if it's free?

Reading is awesome. Writing is awesome too, but what good is writing if no one reads?

Colin said...

I read somewhere about a writer (more clever than myself) who answered this question perfectly. He said that he spent more time reading, because writing was just reading inside himself.

That being said, I spent years reading far more than I wrote, no it's the other way around. I imagine it'll equal out over the scheme of time.

Ted Cross said...

I couldn't watch the US play, because I am in London at the moment. I had to watch England play, but it was a fun game to watch. I was quite concerned that the US was never scoring, though.

I read more than I write, unless I am right near the end of a book, when I will do almost nothing but write.

ironicbarbie said...

If you're going to include all types of reading (online/news/blogs/message boards/recipes/kids' homework/emails/etc.) then the answer is I spend more time reading. If you mean time spent reading books vs writing then the answer is writing. Right now I'm in the final stages of rewriting my 2nd draft, so even my writing time involves a tremendous amount of reading...and rereading...and rewriting...and reading again. Hmmmm....what does rewriting time count as? Is it writing or reading?

Nora MacFarlane said...

I write every day, and at the moment I'm spending more time writing than reading. But when I hit a wall in my WIP, I tend to stick my nose in a book for most of the day. Manuscript avoidance? Maybe. But for me, it helps raise my own creativity/productivity when I drop myself into someone else's world for awhile -much like a vacation.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Wow, the results surprised me! I thought most people would say writing!

I wonder if for many people, it ebbs and flows. I know it does for me. When I'm pounding out a first draft, or spending long days revising, there's no time for reading, except for a little bit before sleep. But in between those times, it's lots and lots of reading. It's always so nice to come up for air and go to the pile of books. Like a reward for my hard work. :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

I read during my lunch break (or anytime I'm away from my computer and need to pass the time - I always have a book on me).

Most of my "free" time is spent writing, though. I just wish I had more of it!

Cluttery said...

I spend a lot of time reading about writing.

This might not be the most productive methodology. But it's where I'm at now.

Bane of Anubis said...

Man, that Dempsey guy's approaching Kwame Brown levels with his expectation implosion. Only goal the dude can score comes on a British muff. Good thing they've got Mr. I Hate Beckham on the team.

Writing -- or thinking about writing. Lots of books on tape, though the WiPthoughts normally interfere w/ proper aural concentration.

Latoya Alloway said...

It depends for me. When I've hit my writing stride, I will write more than I read. The writing just seems to flow sometimes so it is easier for me to write than read. But when I get stuck, I read more. Right now, I'm reading more than I write. :( It's not great for a writer but it happens.

abc said...

It depends on the day/week/year. These days I've been spending far more time reading. But I do spend a lot of thing THINKING about writing. Ha!

Reading is waaaaay important. I don't trust writers who aren't readers. Just like I don't trust people who don't like dogs. Or maybe that's different. Still, if you don't like dogs then there is something wrong with you.

Lori Franklin said...

I spend much more time reading. I also spend a lot of time reading about writing (OK, I admitted it!).

I've been a book-devouring monster since I can remember.

Great question!

Lori Franklin said...

I spend much more time reading. I also spend a lot of time reading about writing (OK, I admitted it!).

I've been a book-devouring monster since I can remember.

Great question!

Josin L. McQuein said...

Definitely writing.

If I start reading something while I'm writing, I'll never get back to the writing part.

Meredith said...

My answer was always writing until about a year ago, when I made it a point to up my reading. And wow, has it made me a better writer.

And the USA goal was crazy, but have you been following this Wimbledon thing?? Even crazier!

Lauren said...

Definitely spend more time reading, but reading is relaxing. Whereas writing can be... somewhat less relaxing, and most often a bit stressful.

Both are important for developing writers. Writing is a strong point of mine (outside of novel-writing), and I must owe that partially to all the reading I did as a kid. Also, for those who are writing a novel, it's vital to know the market and evaluate what's out there.

But of course, if no writing get's done, nothing get's finished :)

Jenni B said...

I definitely spend more time reading. But I think it makes my writing time that much better. Instead of spending 4 hours churning out crap, I have the presence of mind to spend 4 hours bubbling up what can generously be described as semi-crap.

Reading is essential. It's like mental yoga. If I go into the big game (writing) without stretching first I may as well not show up. Serious psychological injuries may result.

Carol Riggs said...

Definitely writing. Like others have commented, I do the reading in jags and big chunks, in between novels or when my subconscious is mulling over a plotting dilemma. Reading is important though, to know what else is out there, and how others write.

Cheryl said...

I read daily at the gym because I enjoy it and it makes me a better writer but I write more than a read nowadays because I have to if I plan to finish. When I get stuck, I'll up the reading just to keep me in the mindset of literature and all that goes with it.

James said...

When doing close readings for school, I can expect one to three hours of writing for every hour of reading - notes, paraphrasing, and so on. On top of that, I can expect another hour of writing in the form of exams and essays, for every hour of reading. For non-academic material, my ratio of writing time to reading time is about even, particularly if I consider reading blogs and so on.

It took, I should not, twice as long to write this comment, as it did to read the post it's responding to.

Nathan Bransford said...

bane-

Dempsey missed some gimmes but that last goal was set up by his run - he got just enough that the keeper couldn't handle it and Donovan did the rest.

BradleeD said...

I spend more time reading, but feel writing is much more important. Reading something I can do online at work, home on the couch as my wife watches TV, or while traveling. Writing is a different story. For me, I have to be alone with no distractions and in my house that doesn't happen too often.

Jen J. Danna said...

Writing by far. I used to read like a fiend, but writing seems to have really filled that need in me. Time is really the issue, so I try to 'read' with audiobooks because there are only so many hours in the day when you work full time and still try to write full time on top of it. So I listen to audiobooks in the car or while cooking dinner so I can still get the exposure without having to sit and actually read.

That being said, I do a huge amount of reading for research for my writing, but that's not quite the same thing as reading within and beyond your own fiction genre.

Joseph L. Selby said...

It was only a miracle because of that horrible off sides call. ...again.

I spend more time writing. I'll write until I need to recharge my battery, read a few books, and then begin writing again. I rarely do both at the same time. I'm either writing or reading.

Durango Writer said...

I agree with IronicBarbie. If you count blogs, Twitter, news sites, etc., then I read more than I write at the moment. I'd count rewriting as writing. ;0

Maya said...

Right now, it's writing, but only because I am hellbent on finishing my first draft. Most of the year, I spend more time reading. And wished I spent more time than that instead of wasting time on the internet or watching TV.

Tracy said...

If I have to give up one or the other, I'll forego on the reading time in order to write. But I read during the commercial breaks of my fav TV shows, waiting in line at the store, for twenty minutes before bed.

I can do the "little drink" when it comes to reading, but when I write I need an undivided block of time.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I find it really interesting that reading is winning the poll but most of the commenters are claiming writing.

For me, it's reading, although if I'm in the middle of a project, it's probably pretty close. I'm a pretty slow-but-steady writer; a little bit each day/week/whatever really adds up.

The Pollinatrix said...

I didn't vote in the poll because after pondering this I decided it's a pretty even split.

At first, I was just thinking about reading books, and in that case, I spend more time writing, but when I factored in the time I spend reading little snippets of things on the internet, I realized it's more of a balance.

Thanks for making me think about this.

Dan said...

Reading is essential to being a good writer. To write a good novel, you have to understand the moving parts of a plot. You have to learn how to surprise readers while still having the plot develop in an organic way. You have to learn how to forge an emotional bond between your characters and the reader.

There's no way to learn these things except to see them done well. There's no way to learn what good writing sounds like and feels like except to read good books. If you aren't well-read, you're probably missing an important part of the toolkit.

reader said...

Writing.

I'm a faster reader than I am writer, so I've got to spend more time writing or I'd never get anything done.

funny in the 'hood said...

Writing for now because I'm in the middle of my first draft.

When I start sending queries I have a stack in my TBR pile.

It might be a while before I get to them.

R.M.Gilbert said...

Do you count giving critiques as reading? If so, I'd have to say I read and write equally. If not, then I write more than I read.

Jolene said...

Way more time writing BUT it's only been that way for the past year or so. My hope is that once all the stories in my head are down on paper, I'll read more and write less. My husband, who sits next to me late at night watching The Daily Show while I frantically type all the stuff that's been screaming in my head all day, may disagree.

Bane of Anubis said...

Yeah, I know, the KBrown barb might have been a bit harsh, but there's just something about that guy that screams 'tool' to me. Great game, though. Loved listening to the end on the radio... something more visceral about that than watching it on the tube.

And that wimbledon match is still going on (47-46 5th set). Wow.

Livia said...

If I have uninterrupted time and a computer, I'm writing. If I'm doing something that requires my eyes (like walking to work, crossing busy streets), I'm planning my next scene. If I have uninterrupted time and no computer (brushing my teeth, on the subway, at the doctor's office, etc), I'm reading. And if a book's ambushed me and won't let me stop, then I'll also read, but I'll read standing up, cuz that way it feels like I'm just-gonna-read-one-more-page-I-swear-and-then-I'll-do-the-dishes-okay-maybe-a-few-more-pages-oh-crap-it's-midnight-already?

Claudie said...

Most of the time, I spend way more time writing. When I pick a book, though, I breeze through it at incredible speed, leaving all writing aside.

The problem I have is that I only read during summer. Whenever classes start, I end up putting novels aside, but I'll still write every day.

I'm not sure why I do this. I've tried to read more, but it'll still take me two-three months to finish a single book. Whereas during summer, there's something wrong when I need more than a week!

Annalee said...

If we're counting things like newspapers, blogs, email, etc, I'd be hard-pressed to name anyone who writes more than they read.

Even if we're just counting books, though, I definitely read more than I write. I check a lot of stuff out of the library these days, which has really diversified my reading habits. When I'm buying, it's usually fantasy, sf, and YA novels. But since the library's free, I've been picking up all kinds of things.

Loree H said...

When I'm in writing mode, I don't do a lot of reading. When I am not writing, I read.

E.D. Lindquist said...

Writing, definitely. I love reading, too, but the writing is so consuming and *takes* so much time! Plus, there's blogging to do, too. Reading is definitely right behind writing, probably about equivalent with sleeping!

Matthew Rush said...

A great day for US futbol. One to remember.

I spend more time reading, but when I write (it goes it spurts) it dominates everything.

How much fun they are goes in this order:

1) Writing - like a manic high at times.
2) Reading - from very fun to life changing - depending on the book
3) Re-reading a draft - first time is best
4)
5)
6)
7) Revising - yuck.
8) Line editing - just tedious.
9)
10) Querying - gawd.

KateCal said...

Writing. For sure. I read before bed, but I write in solid blocks during the day. I am writing my Phd. however, so I am somewhat obliged. Once I'm finished with the thesis, then I'll be writing submissions, proposals, articles etc etc. I'm doomed.

Congrats to the USA. I was also very chuffed that England got through (and by 'chuffed' I mean leaping in the air, shouting, cheering!) All good.

Mira said...

Reading only. I'm always readiing. But I'm on vacation.

When I was in school, I did a bunch of writing. But I just finished that horrible 7 days a week, going until 10 at night schedule, and I'm on vacation.

So, the real answer is computer games.

And NAPS.

Although - I can feel the pressure starting - write, write, write. So, I'll pick up the pen soon.

But for just now, I'm on vacation.

In terms of how important reading is to the writer, I think it depends on the writer. Developing a skill is - I think - a very individualized sort of thing.

Francis said...

It's probably a tie.

It's funny most American don't give a rat's ass about soccer until it's the World Cup, unlike other sports.

Why is that?

Sarah W said...

Cumulatively, I probably read more than I write, but I’m trying to even it up a little.

Reading is an ingrained habit of long standing. I read when I walk from one place to another (peripheral vision is key), brush my teeth, , cook--pretty much anything but drive. I don’t even count it as multitasking anymore. I once lost a $20 bet that I couldn’t not read for an entire hour. I lost when I picked up a book—completely unaware—on my way to the bathroom.

It doesn’t help that I’m a librarian—I’m surrounded by the stuff!

I manage about three hours of writing time on weekdays, if the kids sleep as hoped (which rarely happens) and a little more on weekends. So far, experiments with writing and walking haven’t worked very well, but I’m trying to pick up the habit of jotting down notes and dialogue while I’m sitting in waiting rooms or at lunch.

D. G. Hudson said...

The breakdown for me is about 60/40 Writing/Reading. (that's including reading blogs, etc. as well as books)

I'm always looking for books in the genres I write, so there is never a shortfall of reading material. Making myself write when there are other things to be done is the problem.

Writing seems to feed my spirit, and enables me to face all the other mundane things that life throws at us. I think we need to do both, with more emphasis on writing. That's one reason I blog -- it keeps me writing.

D.J. Morel said...

I said writing, but would have picked 50/50 if it was an option. I write more during the work week, but reading catches up over the weekend since I have no social life.

It's interesting that the comments skew so much more toward writing than the survey itself. Does it mean the readers are too busy reading to write a comment?

Liana Brooks said...

I read during my free time when I take my kids places, at the kitchen table while I eat breakfast, and when I'm stuck in traffic and the highway becomes a freeway. I average a book a day, although I tend to reread things often.

I spend a little less time plotting my novels than reading. It's not actual writing time, but it's the time I think up possibilities and imagine new characters.

Actual butt-in-chair writing accounts for one or two hours a day. I can type 1000 words in 15-20 minutes, so a few hours of writing can equal a new chapter (or two on my best days). When I'm editing I can finish a few chapters in those few hours.

I, Flavia said...

Reading dominates, particularly when I've hit a rough spot in my writing, or when I'm going through one of those phases in which I've developed an irrational fear of pens and paper.

John said...

I've also noticed the poll leans toward reading, while commenters generally spend more time writing.

This question seems to reinforce these roles. More writers will actually publish their comments, while the readers silently contemplate the message.

Very interesting.

Although I will admit I read to get out of writing way too often.

Kari Wolfe said...

Sadly at the moment I think I spend more time reading than writing. I think part of that is because reading is easier to me than writing--that and I need to learn to manage my time better because I've GOT time to write; I just don't use it writing. Such is the life of a mom with a kid and a husband--no excuses though: definitely need better time management skills!

Which is more important? Oh, I think both are at different stages of your career/life. I personally need to write more than I read because I need to develop that whole writing practice thing. Once I'm writing on a regular basis more, reading can become important in learning what to do, what not to do, what's already been done, etc.

Helene said...

I'm usually reading more, but I want to be writing the same amount as well.

Creepy Query Girl said...

That game was frickin awesome. I'm particularly a happy camper because I live in France (paris banlieu) and if Algeria won, we wouldn't hear the end of it (LOTS of algerian immigrants 'round these parts) I'm going to get a jersey with Donovan's name on it. He rocks and the boys are doin us proud. They're classed number one in their group so hopefully they'll be pitched against one of the suckier teams next game and we'll have a chance at the quarter finals!

Magdalena Munro said...

Lately I have balance and read in the evenings after my son goes to sleep and write in the wee hours of the morning (3:30-4:00) until he wakes up. I haven't always had this balance and feel pretty good about it. When I'm not reading my mind aches and when I'm not writing my heart/soul is amiss.

J. R. McLemore said...

I definitely spend more time reading than I do writing.

Generally, I write a thousand words a day when working on a novel. Sometimes, I do more than a thousand. Those are super special days.

However, I read during my hour lunch at work and I spend an hour or two every night reading before I fall asleep.

Bernita said...

It truly depends on the stage of the WIP. Early in progress I may spend more time reading and researching while plot lines, concepts and characters jell; later, it's writing as long as my wee behind can tolerate my decrepit office chair.
At the moment, waiting for release day, I'm too twitchy to write, so I read.

J. R. McLemore said...

Wow, just read some of the responses after posting my comment and found that I seem to be in the minority.

I certainly don't think reading more is detrimental to one's writing endeavors.

Maggie said...

I said reading, but it's probably not quite true. I write for a living, but it's all user guides and requirements and so on. Writing for myself also takes a certain amount of research time. I do a lot of reading.

Dana Rose Bailey said...

I say reading, but only because I read a lot of online articles while at work. (I work in digital media for a newspaper). At home I spend more time writing than reading, except for the occasional binge. I love to find a book that I get so into that I put everything else aside. I need one of those ever so often. I think you need a fairly even combination of both reading and writing to be a good writer. But that combination doesn't need to be a daily or even weekly combination.

Debbie said...

Reading.

I read every day. And while it's always my goal to write every day, I don't.

I think they are equally important. When that new person says, "Oh, you're a writer? I always wanted to write," my answer is, "Then you need to read a lot and write a lot. It's just that easy and just that hard."

Terry Stonecrop said...

Writing but reading is close, only because I read so many blogs and whatnot online. Book reading has suffered.

KateCal said...

I forgot to add. I love to read. Reading is far more important to me than writing. Writing is still a major motivator in my life but it does not, in any way, compare to the relationship I have with other people's books. I lose myself in books, I fall into fictional and non-fictional worlds. I educate myself and I entertain myself. All because other (marvellous) people managed to do what I have always failed at, and they did it magnificently.

(Currently absorbed in Aubrey/Maturin novels, supplimented with thesis-related reading)

Anonymous said...

Writing a little more, but I do a lot of reading as well. When I can't figure something out, I'll read a book and let my "multitasker" figure out what needs to happen next. It works both ways, when I'm sick of reading the book, I dive in for more writing.

SarahElaine said...

Thanks to the revision process, I spend more time reading my writing than I do on the actual writing. Maybe if I took longer to write in the first place, that wouldn't be the case.

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read it makes me want to write. Especially when I start getting ideas or have mini epiphanies about something I've written thanks to something brilliant someone else has written. At least until I'm fully engrossed in a novel and drawn in to the point that I forget that anyone writes except this one person I'm reading, including me.

But in general, more writing for me.

Down the well said...

I write three to five hours a day. I read about thirty minutes to an hour. This wasn't always the case, but I'm obsessed with the novel I'm working on.

I also find I don't enjoy books the same way I did ten or twenty years ago. If I'm not enthralled after the first fifty pages of a novel I put it down and move on.

The Daring Novelist said...

I would like the ratio to be about equal, but I've got so much to write, my brain just won't let me spare the time to read as much as I'd like.

I treat reading like a leisure activity, but I know better. Reading is critical to writing well.

(I guess I've just got to write faster...)

Dawn Simon said...

I spend more time writing, but reading is super important too. Good books teach and inspire.

LTM said...

now that it's summer break, reading is what I'm up to most; once school's back in session/kids are out of the house, it's back to writing. So change my vote come Aug. 16~ :o)

KateCal said...

Not that I'm trying to bang this point home, or anything... If someone told me I would never write a book, I would be angry, annoyed, probably slightly relieved, and I would ultimately move on. If someone told me I could never ever read another book...... Now that's a future not even worth considering.

hannah said...

I don't read nearly as much as I should. When it comes to new releases, I've resorted to reading about them instead of actually reading them. I can talk Twilight and Hunger Games like the best of 'em, despite never having handled either one.

drea moore said...

I voted writing, because that's the "phase" I'm in right now. I switch back and forth every few months. Though right now, I need new glasses, and eyestrain is limiting the time I dedicate to reading. So I'm writing lots and reading less. That's a bit sad really, but it's the truth...

Delia said...

I answered writing, but it only wins by a very slight margin. I think they're equally important parts of a writer's life.

Shell said...

Reading. It's so much easier to pick up and put down a book than a computer. And it's easier to stop and start reading in the middle of a thought than to try to do it writing. Lately I've even started listening to books on cd, but usually only books I've already read so when the kids come in and start talking to me, I still know what's going on.

Theresa Milstein said...

Such a hard question! Between writing blog posts, rough drafts, and editing, I spend a lot of time using Microsoft Word. I read a lot too, but if I clocked the hours, I think writing time would win.

mfreivald said...

Writing*


*To include frequent bouts of chewing the corner of my MacBook in frustration and long spans of staring into space and drooling.

Pen said...

I definitely write more than I read, but it swings about. Some day I do nothing but read, other days it is about 50/50, other days I do nothing but read. As Stephen King says: You have to read to write.

Milo James Fowler said...

Writing takes longer, so I spend more time composing and revising a single WIP than I do reading a book. But it seems like I'm reading more, as I've gotten through chapters of my library loaners and only completed one new short story this week.

Maureen said...

Reading...I love to read so I fill in all the the nooks and crannies of my day reading newspapers, magazines, books, online etc. But I still allow big chunks of time for writing -- trying to balance my days.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I'd have to give the edge to reading, but it varies a lot. When pulling long hours on a first draft, I probably write more. The rest of the time it's probably reading... certainly in the downtimes when I'm between things. But I read a fair bit, likely between 100 and 150 books a year. I also write a lot. It's a matter of finding hours in the day, as I'm guessing it is for a lot of people. Trying to balance family, writing and reading seems to get a little trickier every year.

I certainly read less than I once did. When I was younger I was probably in the 200-300 book a year range. Don't have time for that anymore, though writing time has gone up... perhaps a balancing of priorities?

As for which is more important... I find it hard to separate them. Reading and writing are like two sides of the same coin, a furtherance of my obsession with words and stories. It's hard to unwind them into separate entities. Writing is, really, a form of reading to oneself, and reading is consumption of writing energy. All bundled up, those two things.

And, are you kidding me, that tennis match was called for darkness at 59-59 in the fifth set? How could they even lift their arms to serve anymore? I'd be throwing in a lot of lobs just so I could take more time to catch my breath.

Jil said...

Guilt nags at me when I'm reading. I should be doing something useful. So I write until I fizzle out each morning, then do chores while listening to a book on tape. Guilt squelshed.

greatwritingexperiment said...

For me, it varies. But if the writing is going perfectly, it is hard to stop long enough to read. And if I am reading something and it is really good,it's hard to stop long to do anything else. Usually I read more often than I write. But at the moment I am writing more often than I am reading.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

More time writng than reading books, but equal if we're talking about reading online. I have to shedule reading time these days.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Definitely writing! But the poll surprised me. I wish I read more, but there's only so many minutes in the day.

AndrewDugas said...

Writing, of course. I fell in love with "writing" (narrative, telling a story) before I could form letters.

I actually find reading to be DRAG unless it's VERY good. I have no patience with anything less.

bettielee said...

I think/know/believe that reading is important for a writer. But my reading goes in spurts. I try and write every day. I think I might write more words than I read per day - but the whole "having a job and making sure the apartment stays livable" thing sometimes gets in the way of reading as much as I would like.

Whirlochre said...

For me, this is a suck and blow question.

And the blow of writing isn't matched word for word (or * for *) by the suck of reading.

Whatever — your boys dobbed the Algerians.

Robin said...

I absolutely agree with what KateCal said. Love both, but I could NEVER live without reading.

Having said that, I need to turn my reading/writing ratio around so that I can get my work accomplished.

Janet Sunderland said...

I've spent years of my life reading, now I write more. And since I've read so much, for so long, I really have to have good writing. I'll pass along a book that absolutely captured me - Ransom by David Malouf. It shimmers the writing is so good. And I literally couldn't put it down.

Marian Allen said...

I spend more time writing, because I consider just about everything writing. I'm always soaking up my surroundings, watching people, listening to speech, evaluating interpersonal relationships or speculating on others' interpersonal relationships.

Although I read every chance I get--newspapers, magazines, books, short stories, blogs--I edit as I read, which I count as writing. Why was that sentence so effective? Why can this writer smack me in the face with vulgarities that I accept as NEEDING to be there, when another writer's book would get closed and discarded?

And I blog. Dear God, do I ever. It's all writing. EVERYTHING is writing!

veela-valoom said...

This is a bit of a tricky question. I have a 25 minute daily commute & listen to audio books (which is not exactly reading but in some ways, very much is. So that's 50 minutes guaranteed (longer sometimes) of reading time a day. Plus I read a real hand-held book too. Plus I read blogs.

And to be difficult I think reading is the more important activity because it always comes first. You can't write unless you read (but you can read and not write).

Bethanne said...

Reading. I don't think writing takes longer unless I include the editing and revising part. But to me, that's not writing. So, definitely reading. :D

RBSHoo said...

Lately, it's been more writing on my blog, but that's by default. in the past couple months, I find myself thinking about reading many different books and buying them but never actually reading them. I think I am burned out on what was historically my favorite genre (thriller/suspense) -- the genre I write in -- so I'm kind of lost reading-wise. Forget coming up with a new idea for a thriller, I can barely make it through one that's already published!

Danielle Thorne said...

Writing...but mostly emails...not what I want to be writing.

Owldreamer said...

I spend more time reading on some days and more time writing on others. I feel a writer has to do both. Must read to be a good writer and must write to be a good writer. The biggest drawback to being both is I find myself critiquing the books I read which can decrease the enjoyment of reading at times.

Joyce Shor Johnson said...

I'm at the point where I read more. But I think it is because I am constantly rereading what I write, reading about craft, or reading as I critique. I do write every day, but it seems to in shorter and shorter bursts.

Kristi Helvig said...

I picked writing only because you didn't give the 50/50 option--I do a fair amount of both but it varies depending on where I am in my ms.

I missed seeing that goal but it sounds like it was incredible!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I read every night (with few exceptions); I write every day (with few exceptions).

But, if the hours were counted up, writing would win.

TheSmith said...

That's a trick question like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I do an equal amount of both. I read to relax and take a breather from my writing, or when I hit a block I'll catch up on my reading. I think the two go hand in hand, you can't do one without the other (in regards to writers, I mean) If I don't read, I won't know how to write, and if I don't write...well then I'm just a very unpleasant person to be with in that case.

Kathryn said...

I write more than I read, but I find that if I do both consistently, I become a better writer. You can't write unless you read too.

Also, Nathan, huge soccer fan I see. Why can I picture you at one of those Eastern European soccer games where the fans are climbing over each other and going absolutely nuts?? Glad you're enjoying the games! :D

swampfox said...

Writing by far. Unless it's reading what I wrote...then it's probably a tie.

fourdaysaweek said...

I write more than I read. And now with so much online, I find that I am reading fewer books, sleeping less, and wishing for more time.

KJ Bateman said...

I am sorry to say- much more time reading. Reading is not a chore- I don't have to schedule time for it, whereas reading-anytime anywhere, often when I should be doing something else.

Kaitlyne said...

I wish I could say I read more. ;) I love reading and it's a great way to relax, but I don't have enough time in the day. If I want to get writing done, it's going to be at the expense of other things I'd like to be doing, and sadly reading is one of the biggies. I get all of my reading done in a half hour when I eat lunch, or on the train on days I decide to not work in a notebook instead.

It's a shame because I'm reading the last book in a trilogy right now and it's amazing. I'd love to just sit down and finish it straight, but I just haven't had a chance to even crack it open in days.

Cyndy Aleo said...

Reading. If you aren't reading, you shouldn't be writing. I giggle a lot at agents and editors who carp on Twitter about queries that all have the same theme. If you aren't reading, you have no idea what trends are popular or what's on the downswing, much less learn how to write. Books, blogs, magazines... it's a necessary part of the industry. Shoot, even for freelance writing I have to keep up with subject matter for whatever vertical I'm writing in.

Every single writing course I had in college had a ton of reading that went along with it, and I took that as advice for life.

Sara Murphy said...

I'd like to say it's about half and half. When I do pick up a book I really get into it, so I barely write when I read.

Then I also read books/blogs/mags about writing. Even if you say they are writing realated, it's still reading.

In the past five years, I've written two books and writen and published a short story. Not too shabby.

Simon Haynes said...

Writing - but I had to write two programs to help me. One to manage my novel writing, the other to block the internet.

Anonymous said...

When I am writing first draft I don't read (to avoid "style seepage") Right now I am writing a minimum of 2k words a day so I absolutely spend more time writing than doing any other single thing other than sleeping

ryan field said...

I voted for writing...but I wish I had more time for reading. This might be a good "You Tell me" What do we wish we could do?

Amorena said...

I voted for writing, since that's what's currently true, but sometimes I'll do a lot more reading than writing if I'm in the middle of a good book.

Linnea said...

It depends. Before I begin a new piece I do a lot of research so read far more than write. Once I begin the manuscript I write more than I read.

KareeniaRN said...

I read constantly because I am in love with the written word. I read every day, often times an entire book. I feel that it enriches my life in so many ways and stimulates me to be a more convincing writer. The more I read, the more I want to write!

Melissa Gill said...

For me it's reading because I can do so many other things while reading. I read while doing my pathetic job, eating lunch, dinner, whatever, walking on the treadmill and kniting (which I'm committed to doing for charity.)I can't write while doing any of those things (not that I haven't tried) So I get a lot of reading done during the day and then writing after I get home from the gym.

treeoflife said...

I have to read copious amounts for my work, but when I'm not at work it's nicer to write. Overall though, the reading wins out by far as I spend more time at work by far.

The Decreed said...

Dempsey is doing just fine. He may not have the stats but the way he plays just looks darn pretty.

Good day all around to be watching ESPN, except Isner made sure that I couldn't get anything done all day.

Thus, today's numbers are reading: 0, writing: 0, sports: lazy 8.

Buffy Andrews said...

Definitely more time reading. But I'm an editor so that's what I do all day.

T.Y. said...

Reading is easier and your chances of sucking while you read are slim to none. Plus, it's far easier to snicker at someone else's writing but not so easy when faced with your own prose.

From a book reviewer's perspective: Writing a novel is hard. Writing a book review, however, comes easy.

Kathleen said...

Reading. However, I don't let myself read until I have written something. I don't force a goal, I just let it come to a conclusion naturally. Then I reward myself with a good read. It works for me.

Katherine said...

I read for an hour or more each day. Then, I spend six hours or more on writing, editing.

I'm reading two different novels and two different editing books right now. I read what I like depending on my need or mood. (Not the same.)

Reading is an inspiration. Writing is everything.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I spend more time reading, to my great shame and frustration. I recognize that reading is a vital part of the job description, but how can I call myself a writer when I don't spend much time actually writing anything? I read in the car and every night before bed (because if I wrote right before bed, I'd never sleep), but I have to squeeze the writing in between kids, food prep, housework, yard work, blogging, critiquing for my crit group, husband, and friends, so there's not much time left for it. Aaarrrgh!

Hilary said...

They're really just part of the same process--the writing is the attempt to get some kind of objective grip on my own thoughts about what I have imbibed. I go through half-year phases where I do one more than the other, but how can one be more important when they are essentially the same?

CFD Trade said...

I spend more time reading to avoid writing. LOL!

robin said...

Definitely reading. I enjoy writing, but reading is my joy.

brianw said...

Definitely writing. Sometimes it makes me sad. I love to read so much and it definitely helps me with my writing, but there is only so much time in the day. I used to spend two or three hours reading every night, now I'm lucky to get thirty minutes. I would say reading is the biggest sacrifice I've had to accept in trying to become an author.

Nic said...

ok. Congrats USA in the football.

Surely you should be talking about the American who is in a marathon of a match at 2 sets all 59 games all at Wimbledon.
I'm British and that match is all i can think about right now.

As to writing/reading definitely i read more. Its part of studying the craft to see how others do it.

Rosie E. Scott said...

It depends. Sometimes I read a lot, and other times, I write more. If I really get into a certain author or series of books, then I will spend hours devouring their work; and sometimes inspiration will come from that for my own work, where I need a little motivation. Reading or writing, I get lost in it, and often spend 8-12 hours at a time doing whichever I am doing.

Melanie Beuken said...

I spend most of my time reading. I always do a lot of research for my writing projects, but I also enjoy reading for its own sake. I try to read as many different things as possible. Often I just pick a book, because I like the cover, or because it is in the bargain bin. :) Reading has taught me a lot about writing. Plus, I really like reading.

Tessa Quin said...

It really depends on where I am in the process.

If I'm writing the manuscript - that's all I'm doing. If I'm editing, then I read tips, blogs, articles, my writing books, etc. as well.

In between I read books of my genre, because research and keeping up with the market is important.

G said...

Nowadays, more writing than reading.

Used to read like there was no tomorrow, but now I'm lucky if I can read one book a month.

WriterGirl said...

oh dear, it probably should be writing but reading outweighs my writing time by quite a lot. probably why i take ages to get a chapter done lol.

Ganz-1 said...

I'm more reading for now.

Marjorie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marjorie said...

I spend more time working on my cartoons. I am like the toon energizer bunny.

K Simmons said...

You need an "it depends" option! When I'm in the middle of a project, it's writing all the way. When I'm in the brainstorming, research or editing stages, I spend way more time reading.

CMR said...

I've vacillated over the years, and certainly every November writing wins, but lately I've spent a lot more time reading. Really I ought to be writing more, but reading is so much easier, especially as a work-goof-off activity.

Steven Till said...

First off, that goal was amazing! Talk about some high drama. We had several other chances throughout that we missed on (or the refs took away from us), and I was beginning to wonder if we would be sent home early yet again. Incredible that we ended up winning the group. Now we have to payback Ghana for sending us home early in 2006.

On to the question. I spend about an equal amount of time doing both reading and writing, but personally, I feel my writing is more important than the time I spend reading. I'll often feel like I should be writing when I'm sitting around reading.

Southpaw said...

Reading. I suppose that is why I'm not finished writing yet.

Watery Tart said...

Reading tips the scales, but barely, and it's only because I read on my commute, which between the two directions, adds to more than the 90 minutes I have to write each day.

If I didn't have to have a day job, writing would win.

NP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

when i suffer writers block, i read and read and read. when im having a creative spurt, i write and write...

NP said...

I voted that I spend more time reading, even aside from studying literature in a school setting. When I'm struggling to write, nothing inspires me more than a trip to Google. I might find a picture that sparks thought, a current event that frustrates me into action, or a fact that just makes me laugh. Good research actually gets me writing better, even if I'm working on a piece of fantasy.

Also, I find it hard to believe that anyone could become a good writer without being a good reader. We learn so much from the books we read, consciously and unconciously. Styles, structures, tones, plot devices-- I learned most of them from reading and then refined them through workshops, classes, and practice.

Lastly, though, I would say one usually takes the backseat to the other. Other than perhaps small visits to the web or books for research purposes, I can rarely manage the task of reading books and writing simultaneously (which is probably just a personal quirk. Many people are good multitaskers). I get in the reading zone or the writing zone, and I stay stuck there until the other one calls me back.

bsgibson said...

I love to read. Reading is important. I've read books since I was very small. That's what put me in a positon to write. But, since I've started my book,I have trouble concentrating on the text of another book. Magazine articles I can zip through, but sitting down with a book doesn't come easy and that greatly disburbs me. Maybe it's my age,or poor eyesight, or just the fact that I want my book finished so others can read it.

Claire Dawn said...

I said reading on the poll, but it depends. My writing stays pretty constant. My reading has spurts where I devour 3 books a week. Books are way more portable, since I write on a laptop.

When I'm st work, I write more. With my laptop out and typing away in a language that hardly anyone here can read, I look very productive! :)

Nona said...

merry christmas ;)

Nathan Bransford said...

Ha- thanks, Nona!

GhostFolk.com said...

Harder than it looks to decide. Reading on the I-net counts, I think. But what about writing as writing emails, blog, comments, twitter, facebook, amarketing plan, etc?

I assume we're taling about writing on the WIP? Even then, all those little jots in my notebooks count for something, don't they?

And you know, sometimes reading is a part of the writing. When I am reading SAVE THE CAT, for example, I am writing in my head the whole time.

I can't watch a movie without re-writing the plot. But I'm doing it in my head, not on paper.

Third category requested: talking about writing.

GhostFolk.com said...

Does watching Jeopardy! count if the category is grammar?

12stargazers said...

I wanted to select both for an even-steven mix.

I selected writing because I spend a lot of dead head time (chores, driving, exercising, etc) thinking about what I want to write before I ever sit down at the keyboard. I also go on reading spurts so sometimes my reading time exceeds my writing time.

MaryAnn said...

I'm working on my first book. I feel guilty reading, because I feel that if I have time to read--I have time to write.

The exception: While waiting/watching my kids play sports.

Genella deGrey said...

I MAKE myself sit down and write - I TRY to read at the end of the day, but it isn't long until my eyes close on their own.
:)
G.

Krisula said...

Overall, I spend more time reading. But when I need to carve out more time to write (who doesn't) I try to cut stuff like email, computer crap and TV. I also try to write when I'm out waiting for my kids at their various activities.

Dara said...

I read far more than I write. Reading as much as I do is good because it helps me see what works and what doesn't, especially in a historical. I like to think it will translate over to my writing, that is of course, if I keep writing and don't take these ridiculously long breaks.

SVV said...

Read. FAR more than I write. I like to think that I'm distilling ideas for a story that will make the world smashing drunk one day. And many of the most famous writers insist on the importance of exposure to find your truest voice.

Draven Ames said...

That is a tough question. I read for 31 years before I started writing; now I can't stop writing. I guess it will be time to slow down on writing and go back to reading once I stop getting acceptance letters.

That's the plan anyway,

Draven Ames

Marge said...

Reading, reading, reading. Everything I can get my hands on. . . fiction, mostly, but non-fiction works, too. Bestsellers from the NY Times booklist, lists from the local independent (and marvelous) bookstore, and whatever else I happen to stumble across. I find I can't both read & write.....I have to do one or the other. And I feel my writing is uninspired at present. So I read. Besides, in order to get into what I'm writing, I need more than the limited time I'm currently able to carve out of my day.

Joanne Sheppard said...

At present, it's reading, but at other times, it's been writing. I actually realised recently that I wasn't reading enough any more to be a good writer.

Jess Anastasi said...

Where was the button for 'editing'? Because thats all I seem to be doing at the moment.

Scott said...

I think it may be important to note that, while I vote writing without question, that's when I have a project going. But while I'm always reading, I'm not always writing.

If that makes any sense whatsoever.

Owldreamer said...

I seem to be trapped in revision hell at the moment as well as moving from Anchorage, Alaska back to the coast of Louisiana.Just don't even ask why on earth would I do that because it is a long story.

B Jas said...

Equal parts writing. Equal parts reading. All parts awesome.

Melody said...

The main reason I'm reading more is because I read everywhere. So there's more opportunity. However, I tend to write less when I've got a really good book at my side. Then, when it's over and I'm bookless again, I usually write a lot. (Sometimes I write a lot when I'm reading an especially good and inspirational book, too.)

k10wnsta said...

hehe...I was just commenting to a friend about how, aside from the Harry Potter series, I haven't read a book in almost twenty years (since I was about 15 years old).

However, prior to that, I read a lot and I can recall almost every nuance of Stephen King or S.E. Hinton or William Golding. The reason I stopped reading? Well, that's sort of where the story I'm writing comes in.

And, actually, saying I don't read is a bit misleading...I just haven't really read any full-scale books in that time. I'll still reference Mark Twain, Harper Lee, or even Shakespeare to analyze literary [i]techniques[/i], I just don't really have the patience to sit through the whole tale.

k10wnsta said...

Note: I mistyped the HTML tags in my comment above (damn you, forum brackets!)

Being unable to edit such minor flubs, I may need to start using the Preview button before posting.

Anyhow, instead of deleting and resubmitting the whole thing, I'll just ask you to imagine the letters between the [i]...[/i] brackets are all slanted and emphasized and such.

That is, if anyone is even reading the comments on this post any more.

Hello?

ECHO...ECHO...ECHo...ECho...Echo...echo

mvs said...

I wish I could balance the two, but I always seems to end up reading more than writing.

d_Taoist said...

I was kind of embarrassed to admit that I write more than I read (at least when it comes to fiction). But I see that a number of posts are saying just that, and now I feel worse. Product is product, and there's only so much time in the day, but maybe the lack of reading is making our writing less rich and varied.
The other thing I thought about while writing this response is that even when I am reading, the quality of my reading time has suffered. I'm distracted. I'm reading more short stories. And sometimes, I just want to read non-fiction. I don't want to invest myself in a novel because I don't think I'll be able to give it my attention--I'd be like a bad husband who never listens to his wife. I have no idea why this is. Maybe the internet is changing our (my) brains--present blog excepted, of course.

Priscilla said...

I spend mostly all day writing, either scribbling notes, from an observation,an olofactory rush from a cookout triggers a memory, one of my characters could use, or even the 6 pages I startes wring 3 days ago on my blog,(http://fishheadfishhead.blogspot.com) I am determined these 4 Unsolicited manuscripts out of my head .......and onto an agents' desk by next year and in the bookstores by next December 2011. I have been smart enough to synop the books and write the first 3 and the last chapters, so reading other peoples work is mainly literary criticm mags or book reviews as it widens my vocabulary and writing stles mix in for more universal feel.

Best to you, Nathan!

Imani said...

Writing. I read every once in a while for pleasure. If I read more than I write, my writing voice will sound like another author.

Simon said...

I'm surprised that a number of people are expressing something akin to guilt for spending time reading.

If you don't read, you've no business writing.

Nicole Marie Schreiber said...

For me, it really depends on the day. I try to fit in my writing wherever I can between a toddler and preschooler schedule, but I could NEVER be without my reading.

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