Visual Brain, Audio Brain

I don’t think I read like a writer. This makes things tricky sometimes, as ‘read like a writer’ seems to be one of the foundation pieces of writing advice. ‘Read like a writer, write like a reader’ – isn’t that how it goes?

I feel like I should concentrate on the words and structure when I’m reading – pick apart the way the writer chose to describe this or gloss over that, what techniques they use to form the sentences that become the story. But, unless I concentrate, that isn’t how I read.

When I read, I often lose track of the words completely. I’m aware of them on a subconscious level, but in my head, I’m seeing the story happen. I feel pretty weird about this – it seems like a way of reading that would make more sense for an artist or film-maker than it does for a writer and former literature student.
What makes it weirder is, when I discussed this with my boyfriend – who is interested in film-making, and does 3D animation in his spare time – I found out that his experience of reading is the total opposite. He doesn’t see the story in his head at all. Instead, he hears it, as if it were an audiobook.

Is it random? Or does the way we read contrast with the way we create? A sample size of two isn’t even close to enough to draw a conclusion, but as far as my own personal experience goes, it doesn’t feel complementary – I’m never sure if I’m writing well, because I can never remember how my writing (as in, the actual nuts-and-bolts, words-and-sentences of my writing) matches up to what’s already out there in the world. But maybe I’m absorbing it subconsciously, and my brain treats my writing like the reverse of my reading, taking images from my and somehow turning them into words.

How do you read? And does have any connection to how you write?


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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