Last week, I read a fantastic book. Good news, right? As writers we are all readers first, and there’s an unmatched joy in disappearing into a well-written book, or we wouldn’t be reading in the first place.
However, sometimes, reading a fantastic book pushes me into a downward spiral. I’ll never write that well, I tell myself. I’m not good enough. Whatever I’m working on now is a mess.
(Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t, but when that kind of dark mood descends, there’s no reasoning with me. It isn’t about the truth, anyway.)
To keep that sort of thing from happening, there are writers who forbid themselves from reading at all while they’re writing. Or they have rules around it: nothing in my genre, nothing during the first draft, nothing that has anything in common with what I’m working on. There are others, like me, who focus their reading habits in the other direction: I like to read other books whose topics or time periods overlap with what I’m working on, just to know what else is out there and see how others have tackled some of the same challenges I’m facing in my draft.
It’s up to you, of course. Only you can write your book, and only you can decide what sort of reading helps or hinders you along the way. [Read more…]