Should writers read in their genre?

ebook reader and coffee

The more books writers read, the better they will write, right? Not all the time. Common sense tells us to read widely from our own genres, but as logical as that seems, it can be counter-productive. For one, reading is fun and it can get addictive. You could find yourself doing so much “research” that you never get around to your own draft again (oh, if I had a dime for every time I abandoned a draft to drink up someone else’s novel).

Every hour you spend reading is an hour you don’t spend writing. So, keep in mind that distractions, even good ones, are the devil for writers. Overdo your research and you won’t ever get anything published. Reading is good, but don’t let your own projects suffer.

Also, reading too much in your genre can affect your style. You want to bring something fresh to the reading nook. Sounding too much like every other author will make sure you end up lost in the fray. You need to stand out. Your unique voice will shine brightest when it isn’t cast in some other person’s shadow. Read, yes, but avoid reading too much of your genre, so you don’t end up writing more of the same without realizing it.

Bring your particular view of life and the world to your books. Strengthen your impact. Great writing is less about playing copy-cat and more about getting a strong hold of your readers. The piece should reel them in and keep them dying to know what’s next. So, read moderately and stay original.

2 Comments

  1. I see what you mean here, but what about the other side of this argument? Unless one stays current and reads one’s own sub-genre, how does one understand trends? Not understanding trends, how does one push the boundaries of one’s sub-genre a little further, in order to create something memorable?
    On top of that, I write science fiction because I enjoy reading science fiction. Why would I want to give up reading my favourite sub-genre?
    I prefer to pose this question not as a ‘should’ (which has a moralising tone to it) but, rather as a ‘Isn’t it wise for…” as in “Isn’t it wise for writers to read in their own genre?”
    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Yes, there are always multiple sides to any point. I wrote the blog from my point of view. You make a good point about understanding trends. It’s all about balance at the end of the day. And I wasn’t trying to imply giving up reading one’s genre entirely. :) Thanks for sharing!

      Like

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