Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

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This week I will talk about “the importance of reading, for a writer” and “should a writer read only books in their genre”? This topic was suggested by Christine Wachter. Thank you, Chris, for this suggestion.

I have heard a lot of talk about this subject, and I am actually quite surprised at the first part of the question: is it important for a writer to be a reader?

I recently saw this question posted on Twitter and read the long list of comments to see what people were saying. Most people said, “Yes, it is important for a writer to be a reader.” However, I was surprised at the number of people who didn’t think it necessary for a writer to be a reader.

Personally, I believe it is necessary for a writer to be a reader for several reasons:
1) reading other author’s works can help us to learn what to do as well as what
not to do; what works and what doesn’t.
2) reading can inspire us and give us ideas for our own stories.
3) reading other author’s works introduces us to other writing voices.
4) reading expands our vocabulary.
5) when you read, you naturally discover and learn many of the technical aspects of writing.

Now, let’s look at the second part of the question: should writers read only books in their own genre? I have been told, ever since I became a part of the writing world, that it is necessary to read lots of books in my genre. However, I was never told I should read only books in my genre.

Other writers and writing instructors will tell you to read lots of books in your genre for the following reasons:
1) reading lots of books in your own genre will help you learn what to do or
not to do; what works and what doesn’t in your genre.
2) reading lots of books in your own genre will give you a good idea of what’s
already out there, which will let you know if your idea is new and original
or if it’s been done before. If it’s been done before, you will want to find
a new way to present or approach it so that it isn’t “just like someone
else’s”. One of the questions a publisher or agent wants to see addressed in
your query or proposal is “how is your story different than the others that
are already out there in the same genre”.

I can tell you that I have been an avid reader ever since I learned how to read. I was one of those kids who read everything that had print on it for a long time. Over the years, I remained an avid reader, and I read lots of different genres. I write historical romance. However, I read any romance genre as long as it’s clean. I also read fantasy, mystery, suspense, crime novels — just about anything except sci-fi, horror, and erotica. I also do not read graphic novels or manga. The genres I choose not to read, I do not read based on my personal preferences. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys every genre out there.

So, my suggestion is — yes, read lots of books in your genre, but read books in other genres you enjoy as well.

What about the rest of you — What have you been told? What do you think? What do you read? Leave your answers to these questions in the comments section below and join the conversation. I respond to every comment.

11 thoughts on “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

  1. Hey mimionlife,
    Thanks for sharing a bit about your writing groups.

    I used to be a member of the ACFW National. I just recently heard of Word Weavers but don’t know much about them. I also participate in Serious Writer.

    As I mentioned in response to your first comment here, I will be doing a two part post about writers’ groups in a week or two, and I hope you will participate.
    Blessings,
    Kelly F. Barr

    Like

  2. 1. I don’t read while I’m writing because I don’t want to get distracted or be influenced by another book. When the manuscript is finished, I attack the TBR pile with a lot of joy — finally, a chance to read again.

    2. I only read my genre — murder mystery. It’s not that I don’t enjoy other genres (none of my favorite books from my younger years were mysteries), but I want to focus on the type of writing I’m doing.

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    • Hi James,
      Thanks so much for responding and participating in this post. I can understand not reading while writing. It makes sense that it could be a distraction. I actually do read even while writing. However, I don’t read my genre while writing because I don’t want it to complicate my own story or to distract me from my storyline and characters.

      Also, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading only your own genre if that’s what you want to do. I’m sure that definitely aids you and strengthens your own writing.

      Blessings,
      Kelly

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  3. I read fiction and nonfiction. Normally, I don’t read sci-fi , but, someone in one of my writers groups is sharing a sci-fi piece for critique and it’s very interesting. I believe we should read as much as we can and that will help our writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi mimionlife,
      That’s actually how I got into reading Fanstasy fiction stories. I have several friends who write fantasy who asked me to Beta Read or critique for them.
      Ooo, you’re part of more than one writers group? I’d like to hear more about that. You just gave me an idea for a Thoughtful Thursday Thoughts, Questions, and Comments post. I’ll do it in two parts — part one will be a survey, where I ask my readers here to answer specific questions in regard to writers groups, then part two will be sharing the answers as well as my own findings and experiences.
      Thanks, so much! I love how things I’m posting and that some of you are commenting are creating posts to keep this fun, interactive Thursday theme going.
      Also, I love that you are reading, and not just the genre you write.
      Blessings,
      Kelly

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am a member of ACFW national and ACFW South Carolina Lowcountry chapter. Also, a member of Word Weavers International and Word Weavers Charleston. Serious Writer is another wonderful group that I participate in and learn valuable writing information. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. At the moment, I’m reading thrillers and mysteries, for two reasons. One, for the podcast and two, to study the genre as I am writing a Psychological thriller. I also like to read fantasy, cozy mystery, and some YA and middle grade fiction for pleasure as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ann,
      It’s great to have you comment here again. Did you see last week’s post about character motivation? Did you find it helpful at all? Was there something specific you would have liked to see that wasn’t there?

      It’s understandable that you are reading thrillers and mysteries while writing a Psychological thriller. That sounds fascinating!

      It’s also great to hear that you read other genres as well. In my opinion, all reading is beneficial to writers.
      Blessings,
      Kelly

      Like

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