Can you read and write at the same time?

I’m very curious about this, because as an individual, I am either reading or writing. I can’t do both. I’m either reading multiple books a week and eagerly devouring everything I can get my hands on. Or I’m furiously writing.

I can’t do both.

It’s like the other week, I took a three day hiatus to devour the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I couldn’t resume writing until I finished reading them. I think I have a problem with unfinished business.

Does anyone else have this problem? Or are you perfectly happy writing and then reading a few chapters a night?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
This entry was posted in Reading Discussion, Writing Discussion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Can you read and write at the same time?

  1. I’m with you. It’s either/or for me.
    I go through reading spells between novels, but once drafting begins, no outside words are allowed in until I’m done.

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  2. mochateaoh says:

    Reading often feeds my thoughts for writing. It also teaches me as I evaluate what reads well and what doesn’t. I look forward to reading more from your blog.

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  3. I can do both as long as what I am reading differs greatly from what I am writing. For example, I am writing a fantasy novel, and my shorts are usually dark-humored horror, so to get away from it all I read Man of Hope. It’s an biography of the Capuchin Monk Blessed Padre Pio.

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  4. Generally, if I’m writing something intensely, I’m not reading, unless it is directly related. If I’m reading something engaging then I’ll stop writing. Then there’s the middle position …

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  5. Franny Marie says:

    I can do both sometimes I read 2 chapters in a book and then I work on my book the rest of the day, I feel inspired and motivated to write after I read 🙂

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  6. Paul Davis says:

    If it’s your thing, it’s your thing. I’m pretty hodge podge on my reading. Often times, I’ll read a few chapters, like the beginning or end, just to get ideas of how they’re written, what I like and what I don’t like, then I just put the book away. I write far more eagerly than I read, but I will do them at the same time.

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  7. I’m the same way! George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books literally took months of potential writing time away from me this Summer.

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  8. Widdershins says:

    I can’t read other stuff when I’m doing the first draft of something, (even though I can work on a couple of first drafts concurrently) same with major revisions, but the final couple of edits, reading elsewhere actually helps me gain perspective on what I’m editing.

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  9. I can totally read other people’s stuff while I’m writing, but I can’t read a thing of mine. Same story, different story, different world- doesn’t matter. If I read anything of mine beyond a few paragraphs back to find my place, I lose whatever I was doing and have to come back to it a few days later and see if it’s cleared.

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  10. Jay Dee says:

    I can do both. I read on the train and during lunch at work, while I write when I can at home. Sometimes I write during my lunch break. Reading inspires me and even gives me pointers on how to write various aspects, such as descriptions, dialogue, action, and more.

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  11. Andrew says:

    Either or for me too. Part of the problem though may be that I haven’t really yet “gotten serious” about my writing. I do it and take it seriously, but I don’t dedicate time to it everyday yet so I’m not doing professional reading and/or writing every day.

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  12. JeanKreza says:

    Whenever I feel an impulse to write, I write. Same with reading. Sometimes they coincide, at other times I don’t do either.

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  13. dustomundo says:

    I can’t seem to do both. It’s either dedicate myself completely to writing, or concentrate on reading as much as I can. So for now, I’m strictly reading. Sad but true..:(

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  14. When I’m writing fiction, I find it very difficult to read anyone else’s fiction. It’s different for non-fiction — I have to read what other people have written, no matter how painful it may be 😦

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  15. Interesting thought. I guess I do read more or write more, depending on my mood. Otherwise, if I’m doing both I might feel a little overwhelmed because both can mentally tire you.

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  16. miss_steph24 says:

    I try to read while writing. Currently I’m having to read for research but like writing there’s always something happening to cause me to procrastinate sadly :/

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  17. I do both. I can’t not read, my work means I’m in transit upwards of two hours a day and books are my best friend during that time. I also often read before bed. It is thoroughly incorporated into my routine. What I might find difficult would be if I was reading something in the same genre as what I was writing.

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  18. LindaGHill says:

    I can do both, but writing takes most of my time – sometimes too much for me to be able to read much.

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  19. bkstrange says:

    I can, but sometimes I end up being influenced by what I was reading. So I have to be careful about what genres I write/read.

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  20. Awillaway says:

    I cannot read and write at the same time. When I was younger, I was obsessed with Stephen King. In fact, a lot of what I know about writing comes from reading his interviews and books (Misery, in particular). I remember reading an interview where he talked about not reading while he wrote. He called it “fasting”. Since then, this has become my own process…I tell myself that I do it because I don’t want to taint my ideas with the ideas of what I’m reading. Really, I do it in emulation of “The King”.

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  21. Jay Finn says:

    I can read and write at the same time, however, if I read a different genre from the one I’m writing in I find it difficult. Just because let’s say the ‘western’ voice (if I’m reading a western) might leak its way into my ‘fantasy’ voice (which is usually what I’m writing).

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  22. melodyspen says:

    I can’t do both, either. When I read, it’s very difficult for me to put the book down at all and when I write, I take it with me everywhere and work on it whenever I have free time. Usually in notebooks I have to later transfer onto my computer. For me, it would be like trying to watch two different movies at once. I simply can’t divide my attention in those two areas.

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  23. balimaha says:

    I have to assume most of the people responding here are creative writers? Because for academic writing, it seems to me, one would often have to do both on the same day (sometimes the same moment, but it would be drafting work based on what one is reading, or quick lookups of things to read while finalizing writing… Interesting…

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  24. lazloferran says:

    I not only cannot read and write at the same time but I can’t be reading a book at ANY time while I am writing a novel – with very few exceptions. This is because I need to hear my own ‘writing voice’. If I am reading Tolkien or any other strong writer, their own voice drowns mine out. The exception was Gravity’s Rainbow because it is quite like the project I am currently working on. I also think it has a very weak or non-existent ‘voice’.

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  25. Zaggeta says:

    Somehow, I manage to. Not at exactly the same time, of course, but I can read a book and write a book during the same time period. I also tend to write while also playing games and watching anime. It sometimes affects my writing, but I read very different genres from what I write, so they don’t tend to mesh.

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  26. jameskresnik says:

    I have this problem on occasion, but get over it when whatever I’m working takes on a life of its own.

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  27. Steph says:

    Really? Reading is often what gets me through rough spots in my writing like writer’s block or feeling like my plot is going nowhere (so basically, writer’s block 2.0). It’s very therapeutic for me. If it weren’t for my habit of simultaneously reading/writing, I’m not sure I could manage to write much of anything, especially lately!

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  28. I’m in the same boat as you here. It seems like I can only do either or. Stephen King said “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” I think as long as you’re doing both, you shouldn’t have to worry about doing both at the same time. Happy writing!

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  29. embrystical says:

    Yes. Yes I can.

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