Poll: Do you read what you write?

It sounds crazy, but I’ve had conversations with aspiring writers who tell me that they aren’t big readers. As soon as someone says something like that, a little red flag peeps up in my metal horizon. On the flag it says something along the lines of ‘when they ask you to read their stuff, don’t say yes. They obviously don’t care enough.’

The one and only piece of advice I consistently agree with is: read. Read widely, read everything, read as though it’s a pleasure and an exercise and a necessity.

That’s all well and good, but another thing I keep coming across is people who are writing for a specific genre but aren’t actual fans/big readers of it. For example, people that love the image that comes with indie ethos but don’t buy books from independent publishers or folks that are honing in on the Sci Fi or steampunk markets but don’t have a good grasp of the breakthrough artists.

Maybe you don’t have to – maybe not reading the whole cannon means you’re better able to bring something fresh to the table. Maybe you like reading a different genre to the one you write in because it allows you relaxation time that you wouldn’t enjoy if you were constantly looking at the mechanics.

I’ve no idea. I don’t think I’m widely read enough to be able to tell. But what I really want to know is – are you reading the styles you write?

7 thoughts on “Poll: Do you read what you write?

  1. I don’t really read!! And this:

    ‘when they ask you to read their stuff, don’t say yes. They obviously don’t care enough.’

    is EXACTLY how you should feel!

    But… when I DO read, well, I’ve never really thought about it actually. But a lot of the books I have read over the last year, I suppose… okay, let’s say longer because it’s only been about 5 books this last year, 6 or 7 if I’m very lucky, but I guess they do have connections, some more blatant than others, to the genre I’m writing in.

    The only problem is the things I’m writing are really cross-genre. I’m midway through a sci-fi, midway through a slightly fantastical (but really only slightly) kid’s growing up and being a kid at the start of high school and the usual problems you face book (whatever that is), just starting out on a massive fantasy project and am dreaming up a horror/mystery/suspense type thing.

    And then there’s all the short stories which are like, everything. Mostly horror and weird psychological fucked up stuff though.

    Come to think of it, arranging all that in my head, yeah I guess I do read ‘on style’ cos the books I read cover all of these genres. Well, maybe except the high school crap. I’m not feckin’ 8 any more. But when I was I read a lot and remember it well!

    God, what a long reply. You can tell I’m meant to be working…


      • Lynsey, believe me, reading your blog is much more like hard work than anything I’ve ever done.


        In other news, I’m checking out all the books the guy whose house we’re subletting has and I’m totally excited to read them. I started this one called Exercises in Style by some French guy starting with a Q which is just the same story told over and over in different styles… it’s pretty cool to see how just one short sequence of events can be manipulated in many ways.


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