One of the major themes across my art classes while growing up was about “seeing like an artist.” This concept is something that forever changed the way I, not only, perceive the master artworks, but also the world. This included more than seeing how parts become a whole, but also how each individual artist makes choices that web together to form their beautiful artwork. It is a way to learn from what you see, as well as being inspired by the techniques of the masters. This is the same concept as “reading like a writer” as explained succinctly in Mike Bunn’s essay entitled How to Read Like a Writer.
When reading for pleasure you read to be swept away. To be entertained. To enter new lands and have new experiences. When reading for literary context, you read to notice plotting techniques, rising and falling action, characters are examined and analyzed. You read to find greater meaning. The student reads to better understand their world, to gain empathy for the human condition, and to learn who they themselves are. Reading like a writer is different the other ways of reading. This type of reading inspects the construction of the writing, the word choices themselves.
Writing is a series of choices an author makes. These choices are what should be noticed when you read like a writer. When reading like a writer word choices are noted as well as techniques that the writer employs. Each choice is examined critically, deciding for yourself if it is effective and can be used in your own writing. In the article Mike Bunn states, “You are reading to see how something was constructed so that you can construct something similar yourself.” Taking note of these choices helps the writer to build their own voice and learn new ways to express yourself.
Bunn, Mike. “How to Read Like a Writer.” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, vol. 2, Adobe Ebook, 2011, pp. 71–86.