On Reading as a Writer Response

In Habits of the Creative Mind, you read and marked-up “On Reading as a Writer” with an eye towards understanding how experienced writers, like Susan Sontag, read.  In a 5 minute comment on this post, describe and explain some of the strategies that experienced writers, like Sontag, use to get the most out of their reading time.

24 thoughts on “On Reading as a Writer Response”

  1. After reading “On Reading as a Writer” I learned many skills that writers do which includes rereading and each time you read the text you read it at a slow pace so you can gather more knowledge from the text and truly understand what the writer is trying to tell you. The point with rereading it leads the reading in a path that they can follow and truly see what the writer is saying. It also helps you notice words like we or us to help you connect with your own personal experiences .

  2. After reading “On Reading as a Writer” by Susan Sontag, i learned several ways experienced writers do when they read text. Some examples are: re-read the text, Read in slow motion, and take note of the words (us, our and we). Re-reading is used to stronger your idea on the text your read. Because the first time someone reads a book, they most likely aren’t 100% focused on the text their first attempt at reading . Also its used to better your idea on pieces of the text that you might not understand. Reading in “slow motion” is a term to say re-read a important or multiple important ideas in the text. The reason for this is so you can understand the main idea of the text to the best of your ability .

    1. Hi Ben,

      Miller and Jurecic put a lot of emphasis on reading in “slow motion.” On p. 185, they explain what you should do with the extra time that slow reading gives you. So, what should you do when reading slowly? Why will those activities serve you well as a writer who writes about other pieces of writing?

  3. There are many reading strategies that the experienced writers like Sontag use in the reading. One is to read and reread again each time slower and paying attention to the details. They also pay attention to the writers choices they make like there structure and research.

    1. Hi Ian, I think you chose interesting reading strategies to point to. I’ll ask you the same question I asked Hannah: Can you tell me a little more about what kinds of things Sontag notices as she re-reads Virginia Woolf? What do Miller and Jurecic think you should pay attention to as you read “in slow motion?” Why are they so insistent that slow reading is worth it?

  4. Experienced readers like Sontag have many ways of making the most out of their reading. In, ” On Reading as a Writer,” the reader explains that in order to read as an experience writer you have to read as a writer. This gives you the ability to see things more than on way. The reader also explains that you must re read and pay close attention to detail. This will make certain points stand out and give you a better understanding of what you are reading.

    1. Hi Hannah,

      Can you tell me a little more about what kinds of things Sontag notices as she re-reads Virginia Woolf? What do Miller and Jurecic think you should pay attention to as you read “in slow motion?”

  5. With experienced writers they use pretty common rules when it comes to writing. First they start off by telling the reader what they are writing about. That can be in line of telling the reader a brief idea of what it is before getting into detail. Next would be that they all like to keep things in order. Instead of jumping around, it just makes things easier to read and follow whats happening. When they are writing they also use different sources, which are either personal sources or outside sources.

  6. What I believed that Sontag says in her writing is that: she tells her students to pay close attention to the choices the writer of the essay makes, to thoroughly assess what the writer is trying to say and to ask questions. She also says to slow down when we read and make the connection that is trying to be made. Aside from that she also asks to make questions on that connection, In a way you will be second guessing yourself. Apart from reading slowly, she also put’s in clear context to read slowly so that we can thoroughly get the deeper meaning of the text.

    1. This is a pretty perceptive reading of Miller and Jurecic’s account of Sontag’s reading practices, Ally. I like you’re emphasis on “second guessing yourself” as you read. Ordinarily, second guessing isn’t something we encourage people to do. What’s beneficial about it in this context?

      Note: it’s Miller and Jurecic who are making an argument about how experienced writers read, and they’re using Sontag as an example. What changes would you make in your post as a result of this note?

  7. Some of the strategies that writers use as readers are rereading, reading in slow motion, and using words that show the work cited in the essay. With rereading it gives the reader a chance to look back at the work and really understand what is happening. Reading in slow motion is another one that gives the reader a chance to look at the deeper meaning of the work and find out what they are saying.

  8. Experienced writers read with a much different attitude then us teenagers. We don’t read as carefully as we should and we don’t read with the allusiveness as experienced writers. Experienced writers read with such a deep devotion, engagement, and imagination. Personally I realize after i’m done reading is that I have taken the reading too literal and not using as much imagination as I should be.

    1. Hi Myles, I like how you write that it takes “imagination” to read deeply and well. Which of the strategies that Miller and Jurecic recommend might best help you bring your imagination to your reading?

  9. Experienced writers don’t function on their own writing alone. They take influences from all sorts of other sources. Like other books, people, and events. In the book, it claimed three mantras:
    1. Read as a Writer.
    2. Reread.
    3. Read slowly.
    I believe that is accurate at a basic understand of how to improve as a writer. Writing is all about communication. Which is why pieces deserve your full attention and time. Skimming it may give you the gist of it, but not the full story. Some piece are too complex for that. Each word that the author chose was purposeful. Their final works were not the first draft. So only once you’ve taken the time as they did to fully understand the piece, can you appreciate it. Reading as a writer is about furthering your understanding. You look to see not only what the author wrote, but also the how and why.
    Sontag looked through the entire piece of the essay before making her own voice. She learned from it before making a decision. Ideas become clearer when they are compared and refined. And writing becomes better under the influence of masters.

  10. There were a few key strategies experienced writers (like Sontag) used to get the most out of their reading time. One was paying close attention to key points, really trying to grasp what the overall concept is. That goes along with another strategy they use which is paying attention to key words. When you pay attention to key words it helps get a better understanding about what the author is trying to get at. Connecting to the larger network of meaning is also very important. I feel like if you can connect to the article/novel you can understand and remember it better because it connects to yourself. Lastly, reading in slow motion. If you read slowly and soak up all the information you need to in order to understand the concept trying to be made it really does make a difference as opposed to just skimming through it fast.

    1. I love this line, Chelsey: “Connecting to the larger network of meaning is also very important.” I want to connect that to something you said in class, which is that it’s easier to connect with a piece of writing, and to write yourself, in fields where you’re already interested. What do you do when you have to write, but you’re not necessarily organically interested?

      I’d point you to this line from the very first piece we read from Miller and Jurecic: “Nothing is inherently interesting; but everything – from the ways single-celled bacteria communicate, to the running back-channel chatter in the brain, to the evanescent patterns made when smoke rises from a candle’s flame – has the potential to be made interesting. The mind can be trained to transform what would otherwise seem mundane and unremarkable into an opportunity for thoughtful reflection. We can make the world interesting to ourselves and to others through sustained acts of attention, and we can gain access to curiosity and creativity through practice” (3).

      How does “connecting to a larger network of meaning” contribute to our emerging ability to make boring things interesting?

  11. In ” On reading as a writer” Susan Sontag made some points in the reading about the different strategies she uses. One major strategy in my mind was when she said to read and re-read. The first time read like you usually would to find those things that catch your eye first and to find the things that stand out the most. Then go back and re-read but this time do it slow and take your time. Use this time to find the metaphors or phrases you didn’t see the first time. Dive deeper into them and maybe even try to make connections between yourself or other text. Another strategy she mentioned was to slow down. Slow down when you read. Take the time to look up the words you don’t know. Do research on the things you don’t know. Take time to look up the different events and find out more than what the writer is putting on the paper. While doing this you can also use the strategy of annotating. When you look up that word or metaphor write it down on that page so when you go back to it you can look and remember what it meant.

    1. Nice work, Michaela. I think you capture quite a bit about how an experienced writer like Sontag reads in this 5 minute post. One note: it’s Miller and Jurecic who are making an argument about how experienced writers read, and they’re using Sontag as an example. What changes would you make in your post as a result of this note?

  12. Experienced writers, like Susan Sontag, read using many different strategies. The main one that stuck out to me was rereading. You have to read and reread again slower to get deeper meanings out of the reading material. Also you have to pay close attention to the choices other writers make such as their organization and sources. Reading for a purpose is also important because depending on why you are reading there will be different things to look for. For example, if you are a student you want to read Sontag’s piece paying attention to the thesis, but if you are a writer you pay more attention to the little details such as organization and diction. Lastly you should look at sources that the author used and analyze them to better understand their writing piece.

    1. Hi Ciara,

      Why do you think Miller and Jurecic want us to notice how Sontag pays careful attention to Virginia Woolf’s diction, in this case, the attention Sontag pays to Woolf’s shifting use of the pronoun “we?” What’s the value for M & J of such micro attention?

  13. One of the strategies I noticed that Sontag used in “On Reading as a Writer” was to read in slow motion. What she means by this is when you are reading something that you don’t fully understand, take it slow and if you come across something you don’t know, look it up. Sontag also said that you should make your arguments with ideas; I feel like this would help the reader understand your point better. Also, Sontag uses “We” instead of “I” when she’s writing. I liked this because she can speak from a standpoint of everyone instead of just herself.

    1. Hi Blake,

      Thanks for pointing out the importance of looking up references as a reading strategy. That can add a lot of time to your reading. How do you know when to look things up and when to just keep reading to see if things clear up later?

      Note: it’s Miller and Jurecic who are making an argument about how experienced writers read, and they’re using Sontag as an example. What changes would you make in your post as a result of this note?

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