It seems obvious. If you are a writer you have to read!
I know that most of you are readers. But I’m regularly surprised at how many writers confess Not Read a lot in the genre they write. Or any genre.
Read in the genre you want to write
At a conference I met a woman who wrote an exciting novel. I asked who her favorite Suspense authors were, and she looked like a deer in the spotlight, and she was hemmed and hewn. I felt bad for her because it was like she was finally found out! I gently suggested that she take a break from writing and sit on the porch for a while with a tall glass of iced tea and a stack of books. What could be wrong with that?
Of course, I wonder why anyone would want to write a particular genre if they don’t read it. I mean, is there a fashion designer who doesn’t like clothes? Would you be a lawyer if you weren’t interested in the law?
But more importantly, if you are not well read, you will not be a good writer. If you haven’t read much in a particular genre, you won’t understand that genre exactly.
Quantity + quality
I recommend that you not only read as much as possible, but also pay attention to the quality of the books you read. You will of course immerse yourself in the writing styles that you read. They unconsciously learn about the structure of stories, good dialogues and sentence constructions as well as countless other aspects of writing. If you only read bodice-ripper romances, you shouldn’t sit down and write a literary masterpiece. (Note: I have nothing against bodice-ripper romances.) If you’re reading a steady diet of self-published books that haven’t been rigorously edited by a publisher, you may not be able to help yourself.
Sometimes it’s also a good idea to read outside of your natural preferences. Treat yourself to some variety, open yourself to different styles, genres and topics. You will learn something and maybe even find a new interest. That’s why I like book clubs because they usually encourage us to read books that others have suggested, rather than our own decisions. Many reading groups, book-related podcasts, and websites like Goodreads have “challenges” that you can participate in. You try to read all kinds of books that are not necessarily your normal contact. So your reading stays fresh!
Don’t confuse this post with what I want write how other authors or deliberately emulate them (although this is not always a bad idea if you are a new author). I just want you to enjoy yourself and become a stronger writer. And I want you to be an informed consumer of the product you want to sell.
And for those of you who are already readers, what have you read recently?
If you decide to invest in personal advice, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services
I also offer online courses here: Author school
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