We’re not quite at the nitty gritty of what to do to read like a writer yet, I wanted to cover ‘when’ to read first. Everything I’ve ever read about how to write, says to read your genre. Read DEEP into your genre, read everything you can get your hands on. For lots of reasons.
1. Know your market – you need to know what is typical and atypical for your chosen genre, you need to know whats popular, and what works. But more importantly, what wouldn’t work.
2. Know your audience – reading your genre gives you a sense of what your audience are looking for, the types of plots, pace of genre, style of story they would like.
3. Know what’s been done – so that you can be unique.
But here’s the thing. For me, when I am in writing mode, I stop reading, almost completely. At least, I stop reading my genre.For me its dangerous to continue to read my genre when I’m are working on my WIP. But why?
When we write, everything we do/see/participate in during the day affects our writing, it seeps into our subconscious and buries itself somewhere ready to pop up when we least expect it. What you don’t want is for it to seep into your own writing. You don’t want to end up sounding similar or worse plagiarising published authors in your field. Now I know this is probably unlikely. But mimicry can be subtle, you might not even realise your doing it.
I’m not suggesting for a minute that you give up reading all together. In fact the complete opposite. But when you are in writing mode, I advocate reading completely different genres. If you write mystery novels, read fantasy or a romcom. Avoid other mysteries like the plague. Read non fiction, read about writing, read anything but other mysteries.
Another reason for avoiding your genre when in writing mode is because you don’t want to focus on someone else’s work when you are still developing and building your own. Just focus on your own WIP, your own characters and your project, save for getting disillusioned with others.
Thanks to Dylan Hearn author of Second Chance and Absent Souls for the comment below, which I am now adding to the list. Don’t read anything other than your preferred and currently writing POV, incase you end up with whole chunks of paragraphs and pages to rewrite.
What do you do when in writing mode? Do you still read your genre? Do you read another style of story?