Wednesday Words of Wisdom: William Styron

I came across this quote on Jon Winokur’s twitter page. It’s always full of inspiring and thought-provoking quotes from writers! I liked this one because it’s a very important part of writing. You have to not only fill the roles of writer and editor but reader as well…

“The writer must criticize his own work as a reader.” – William Styron

This is easier said than done. I find it difficult to step back, take my writing goggles off and put myself in the shoes of the reader. Sometimes it’s impossible to guess what the reader may think. I think Stephen King said it best when he said, “What is writing? Writing is telepathy.”

Nonetheless, you have to attempt to see it from your readers’ eyes. This sounds like a lot of guesswork but I think there are ways to make this easier.

Firstly, I think it’s really important to read voraciously. I’ve made it a goal to read more. I’m reading more books, more articles and more blogs. When you read you pick up on effortless writing, bad writing, mistakes, engaging dialogue, rich scenery, great characterization, etc. You also know the experience of being a reader.

Secondly, I think having a go-to person is key. For me, it’s usually my sister. If you don’t have a go-to person to read and review your work, you can always think of someone in your life as your reader. How would they react? What would they say? This way you can ask your readers indirectly what they think of your work.

Do you find this part of writing tricky?

Sometimes I feel like it’s hard getting out of a certain mindset, whether it’s writing mode, editing mode or reading mode. Even with all of your humming and hawing over your work, you still can’t please everyone! There will always be that stickler, with their glasses perched on the end of their nose, staring disapprovingly over the rim of their glasses at you.

But if we at least try to see it from a reader’s point of view, we’ll have a better chance of connecting with them and reaching them and understanding them.

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