When Reading Loses its Magic

When I was a child, I devoured books. In fact, I broke the record of the most books read in one year at my elementary school. I read anything I could get my hands on. I even read Shakespeare, biographies, and encyclopedias :).

As an adult, my love for a good story continued. I found myself blessed with a husband who loved reading. Even better, we loved the same kind of books. We read Star Wars novels together, Harry Potter together, even Twilight. And I would read whatever nonfiction he was going through, whether it was on church ministry, leadership, or spiritual disciplines.

It wasn’t until I became a writer that reading began to lose its magic. I still read, but now that I was learning the craft of writing myself, I began to critique what I read. I couldn’t help myself. If I learned to stay in one-person point of view, then every book I read that didn’t follow that rule I thought was wrong.

As an author recently put it, reading a book is like watching a magic show. It’s fascinating and you are caught up in the spectacle. But when you start to learn the magician’s tricks, the show loses its charm. You know how he does it now. And you begin to critique the magician if he doesn’t do it right.

So how does a writer find her way back to the magic of simply enjoying a story? That’s a hard one, a feat that has taken me almost 2 years to learn.

One, I had to learn to turn off my inner editor. If there is one thing I have learned in writing, it is there are many styles of writing. And one style is not necessarily better than another. Just different. Both accomplish the same thing: a well-written, emotionally engaging book. But if I let my particular style drive my reading, then I am bound to be disappointed in a book that is different than me.

Two: don’t go into a book with preconceived ideas or emotions. What do I mean? In this industry, it can be easy to let jealousy come in and distort my view of a book. That is not right. If I am jealous, I will not see the good in a book, I will only be looking for the bad. But if I learn to rejoice with my fellow authors when they produce a good book, then I will enjoy their written work (for more on that topic, click here).

Thirdly, I need to let myself enjoy the experience of reading. Drink a cup of tea, curl up on the couch. Allow myself to be drawn in and taken to another place. And make the writer part of myself stay home! It has no place in my pleasure reading.

When I do this, I am finally free to just simply read. I get to experience the book as a reader. And the magic of reading comes back, just the way I remember it as a child.


13 thoughts on “When Reading Loses its Magic”

  1. I thought I was the only one… reading did turn sour for a while for me after I started writing my books… I learned to switch the writer off after a new sequel of Jack west Jr was released… something in me clicked it off, I didn’t want to lose that feeling a get when I read the book.
    Good luck with your writing

  2. I agree! I feel like I’ve come full circle too. I love books for the adventure they take me on and I don’t want to lose that. Which made me wonder…If we lose those “magical feelings” from reading would our writing lack that magical quality? Good thoughts!

  3. I find that when a story and its voice are compelling, it silences my inner editor. For example, right now I’m reading a book outside my usual genre preferences, and the characters’ honest dealings with their circumstances keep me turning the pages. I admit, I’m hard to please right now, but I’m thankful to know the right story/style can overcome that.

    Thanks for posting this. It helps to know I’m not alone in struggling with finding the magic.

  4. Hehe…I know exactly what you mean, Morgan. I was a power reader as a child. I won the “Book It” reading program every year in my class for just churning through books. My sister and I used to have reading contests in the summertime. We would read all day, one book after another.

    I finished my first novel in Feb. 2012. After 14 years of writing, it was FINALLY done. I had sacrificed reading so many books in order to spend hours and hours writing, year after year. But I found it difficult to get into reading again. My inner editor was turned on full blast and I kept critiquing everything and not enjoying anything. I must have tried to start reading 5-6 books before I was finally able to chill out and quiet my inner editor.

    In fact, I just finished your novel, “Daughter of Light” a few days ago, and absolutely loved it. Can’t wait for “Son of Truth.”

    1. Power readers unite :). My reading slowed down until my husband bought me a kindle last year. Now I read a book every week to 2 weeks. I just love reading 🙂

      And congrats on finishing your book! Many people do not reach that goal.

  5. As long as I can remember I’ve been a critical reader. I love to read, but I suspect not as much as people who can just read a book and not judge it at the same time. It’s weird—I just finished a book by Coulter and it was horrible, but I still enjoyed it to a degree. Odd.

  6. I’m just the opposite I love to read other people’s work because sometimes it leads to inspiration in my own. I love to see how a writer can take a name and weave depths of emotion, a purpose and a struggle to create a character. Its fun to be carried away to another place or time and forget my own work altogether or to think out how one of my characters would have braved that situation. I loved reading “Daughter of Light” because the character, Rowan, could see and make others see what they would have otherwise been willfully blind to. I love reading books that show ideas I would have never thought of. At the same time I like to take note of things that don’t work so I can be careful to avoid them in my own stories.

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