Monday, July 1, 2013

Separating the Critic From the Reader

QUESTION: Ever since I started to write with my eye toward being published, I have trouble reading for fun.  I keep spotting craft mistakes, or I’m analyzing why I like or don’t like something.  I miss the fun.  Any suggestions?
I have two degrees in literary analysis, I’m a professional writer, I’ve worked as an editor, and I teach writing. If anyone has an super-critic in their head, I do.
Years ago, I realized I could never shut off the critic in the head, but I have learned to keep her separate from me, the reader. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I learned to do it.
About the only time my super-critic takes over is when a book is so flawed I continue to read it like an autopsy of what can go wrong and why. Otherwise, I’d stop reading entirely.
Reading really good writers helps.  Reading what you love helps.  Reading outside your genre helps.  
Mainly, though, you simply have to learn to ignore the critic sitting in the corner of your brain taking notes the same way you focus on one conversation in a room full of conversations.

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