Jason Hough recently brought up something that I’ve been noticing a lot myself lately: that listening to audiobooks can improve your writing. A few months ago I started listening to audiobooks on my morning and evening commutes (since if you’re going to be stuck in Bay Area traffic for 45 minutes, you may as well listen to a good book).

What I’ve found is that my “writer’s mind” is much more active while listening to books than it is when I read them as text. Sometimes I try hard to analyze a particular writer’s technique when I’m reading, but it’s always a struggle, because I’ll get caught up in the story itself and stop paying attention to what the author is doing.

Listening to a book, though, is completely different. For whatever reason, I can immerse myself in the story while at the same time thinking about whether it works, how it works, and why it works. My mind will regularly ‘ding’ with thoughts along the lines of “ooh, that was well-done” or “meh, that could be better.” I’ve started to feel like I’m learning much more about the technique of the writers I’m reading.

And now that I think of it, that’s usually how my brain works when I’m watching a TV show or movie–a fact that my wife absolutely loves. Because walking out of a good movie, it’s perfectly normal and lovable to spend the next half-hour dissecting everything about it, right?

Maybe it’s a good thing there’s nobody in the car with me listening to my audiobooks…

filed under there’s-no-such-thing-as-over-analysis