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?