Virginia Woolf’s Nine Tips on How To Read a Book [Fourth]

virginia woolf a writer's life quote over photoVirginia Woolf’s Nine Tips on How To Read a Book

“How far, we must ask ourselves, is a book influenced by its writer’s life — how far is it safe to let the man interpret the writer? How far shall we resist or give way to the sympathies and antipathies that the man himself rouses in us — so sensitive are words, so receptive of the character of the author? These are questions that press upon us when we read lives and letters, and we must answer them for ourselves, for nothing can be more fatal than to be guided by the preferences of others in a matter so personal.

But also we can read such books with another aim, not to throw light on literature, not to become familiar with famous people, but to refresh and exercise our own creative powers.”

12 thoughts on “Virginia Woolf’s Nine Tips on How To Read a Book [Fourth]

    • Very much agree. Virginia Woolf was filled with such inspirational brilliance. More to come in the weeks ahead. I read everyday from a variety of sources. I have a thirst to know and to read other writers words and to see what makes the writing work or not. It is of the utmost importance if one wants to grow as a writer &/or a reader jk 🙂

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        • I am drawn to reading but I too am trying to write my stories in the various forms I use to write in. Novels. Short Stories. Film Reviews. Poems. Essays. And even Screenplays. Where to find the time for it all is most difficult. It does sound like you are juggling reading with writing your novel. Three books at once is a good amount as long as you can sort them out. I have too many books going but I want to learn, this is for non-fiction, and I also read fiction as well.

          I, also, have several fictional projects I am trying to prioritize. They are more for my pleasure but who knows where they will go. One though which is getting more concentration than all others. I read the most recent chapter out loud today, in character, and was delighted. After the read through a discussion began of how the next chapter would lead the story forward. It is a joint project with my partner. There is a destination and a knowledge of the path but the details need to be boiled down to more intricate specifics for the next chapter. [We work together on one chapter at a time, though all chapters have been outlined in both our heads]. But I need to do that and I need to do all the other projects essential to my need for variety and release of energy.

          More time everyday would be perfect. I have a bad habit of staying up long past time to sleep. Last night it was until 5am. Usually it’s 2am.

          It’s fun to have direction. Never bored. When I relax, I try to be in that moment. But in the back of my mind I want to get back to the words or art.

          Good luck with sorting your time out as well. And Good Luck on your Novel. jk

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          • I try not to read or write more than two each (2 reading and 2 writing) at a time. I wouldn’t say it gets confusing, but it makes the “relationship” with the book casual and frivolous. Committing to one makes it a more serious venture.

            My partner has asked multiple times to see my books and even offered to help me turn it into an Audiobook as he has a recording studio, but I’ve yet to comply with that one. My friends have read them and loved them. I suppose his time will come. I just want to finish the series before sharing anything else with someone who is fairly new to the creative process.

            If you ever need help with the editing/proof reading of your novel, I’d be happy to help. That’s pretty much my job these days for various clients. Far more fun than it had been to crunch numbers as an accountant! Haha

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            • Thank you for the editing offer but I live with a writer who also does editing. She usually edits my work whenever I ask.

              I agree about concentrating on One on One. It is difficult to decide. I have narrowed my single fictional endeavor in finishing the writing of a screenplay. It is connected to a Novel I wrote & posted weekly chapters on my blog a year or so back. I never felt the story was finished and finally decided after working on the screenplay outline, just needs dialogue, that I want to continue it as a screenplay. For awhile I thought I wanted to change over into Novel mode. I have a great screenwriting program but this past year I got myself Scrivener. It is a fantasy writing program of genius. It works the way anyone wants to write. For me, I like to write it out, the whole outline, then work on what I am focused on at any particular time. I allows one to Cast the characters and settings with images and synopses. I have several outlines of Novels I want to write someday. But the screenplay has caught me and I want to finish that before I turn to anything else. With the exception of the joint books series my partner and I are working on. I came to her with the idea for a fantastic idea for a book which naturally turned into the potential to be a series. She volunteered to help me get it started and it eventually turned into a joint effort. She is a brilliant writer and published 3 books so far. I never was interested in publishing except when I was a foolish teenager and thought it would be easy to write a book and get it published. I was a dreamer. Now I just love to create through words and painting. And I love working my blog and the joint blog my partner and I set up together. Her solo blog is as different as mine is from our joint blog. I am a daily blogger. She spends her time writing and editing professionally.

              I love writing but I also love to edit my work. After I have done my editing, if I am still not sure it is finished being edited I will ask her to take a look. She always finds the best ways of shaving off the extras. And after she does, I feel so much better about the end result. I do thank you for the offer though.

              It would be fun to have your books go audio. Your partner must think they would sound great read aloud.

              When I read, I tend to read softly aloud to myself. For some reason, the words sound more real, even if they are fictional or fantasy.

              Well, it was fun sounding things out with you. Hope we can do it again some time. Now I must sleep, It is heading toward 3am here. Need sleep, not two nights staying up too late.

              Thanks for listening. Enjoyed reading what you had to say. Night. jk ps. Just keep writing and reading. So much fun words are, aren’t they?!?

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              • That’s a great setup! I’ve always edited my own work. Never trusted anyone else to do it, because I don’t want then messing with my sentence structures haha. No one who’s read my books has ever found a typo and they’re roughly 125,000 words each so I guess I’m doing a pretty good job on my own.

                I work on one project at a time — period. If I have an Idea for something else I don’t write it. I write the idea down. I can get to it later. The other “novel” I’m usually writing is just for laughs. I will never publish it.

                I also don’t post my work online because it’s not copyrighted and I’m too young to go to prison.

                I use regular Microsoft Word and a notepad to do my writing. That works great for me. I guess I’m this generation’s version of old school.

                Not a fan of screenplays, but I’ve been told that my books read more like a movie than a novel. That may be because I don’t read books in my genre, but I watch movies in it.

                Maybe when I’ve finished the series I’ll take my partner up on his offer to turn them into audios. Maybe I’ll sell them on iTunes. So much to consider!

                It’s only 10:22am here. Have a good night!

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  1. Got started late & have early appts on Thursday. I do want to respond, so I will try to do in the afternoon my time. You made some good points I want to respond to. See you sometime tomorrow. When that might be where you are, I am not certain. You did say you lived in Australia? What is the time by hours difference from EST NY City Time. East Coast USA? jk

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    • If your writing a specific story in novel or screenplay form, it helps to stay in the moment of where you are in your story or know it so well you can drop right back in. I concentrate more on writing poetry but I love to tell stories and I love dialogue b/c I am addicted to films. I do write film reviews for an online publication. I discovered a new method to me, to write a more fulfilling review for me and I hope the reader. My readers seem to be loyal. My most recent publishing a two poems at the same publication got more hits than I ever thought possible. It spreads me around a bit and can be exhausting trying to do everything but I need to do as much as possible. I am serious about the screenplay. What remains is actually just writing the dialogue and editing the Act and Scene descriptions. I have some new ideas on how to build up parts of the story. It is hard not to be pulled in various directions but I agree with you about concentrating on one thing. I started to do that, and cut other areas of my life out, on the creative side. But now I realize I need to try to as much of it all as is possible, otherwise I feel I would be leaving things out. The stories I want to tell. I want to tell them.

      Going audio. I have a doctor friend who when he travels he always buys long audio books to listen to. He finds it more interesting than listening to music or talk radio. He is fantasy/sci-fi fascinated. So I do know there is a huge market for good audio books. It also must be a good voice.

      My partner use to read stories to me to help me fall asleep. I loved the story and her voice. They were both important. Now she reads to me when I am awake. Presently, It is the book we are working on. It helps me to throw out ideas for the continuation of the story. We do make great collaborators. Yet our individual work is so different. Exact opposites in style and what we reveal and how we write. Our voices are completely the opposite, too. Still we have such similarities in what we love and are interested in.

      Good luck if you decide to go audio. Who’s voice would you want telling your story? A male or female? Just curious. Would it be one of the characters or an outside narrator?

      Have fun reading. Ever try telling yourself the story out loud? I love to read to myself that way. I think I mentioned that before. It’s fun. Ciao! jk

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    • Well said Virginia. It is our powers we should always want to awaken. Ir is the purpose for our existence, at least partially. Let;s face it, I would write all of my waking hours if other things didn’t need attention. But then inspiration wouldn’t come if we were too focused. A living thought. It will never end. So I will stop now.

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