I think we all know how important reading is for our writing. I am willing to say that there is no way you will ever become a successful writer if you aren’t also an avid reader. What I want to open is a discussion on is the importance of reading multiple genres.
I had a hard enough time switching my writing style from technical academic research writing to fiction. Dialogue was an absolute pain for me to get down. The only writing I had done up to four years ago was purely for my college and research career. I wasn’t aided by the fact that science fiction was my only reading genre. I used to read only science fiction. Seriously, that was it.
As I mentioned a few blog posts ago, I have been gone for a while. I’ve been doing a ton of research and have outlined approximately four books that I am beginning to work on. During my time away, something magical happened. I began to read everything.
Over the last four years I have read everything except science fiction. Don’t get me wrong, sci-fi is my first love, but I am now in an open relationship with many other genres (to the complete dismay of sci-fi). I have read romance, fantasy, horror, suspense thrillers, LGBT, and young adult books across the spectrum. I have read books from the most basic, easy to read, to challenging brain-burners. From 200 pages to 1400.
I can absolutely guarantee that my writing has improved five-fold since then and it has everything to do with my new reading experiences. I have gone back and looked at some of the stuff I was writing four and five years ago. While it wasn’t horrible, it is nowhere near what I am producing now. Thanks to these last few years of massive reading consumption, over 250 books, I have been introduced to new worlds, new words, and new wisdom.
We all get stuck reading certain types of books. We have our favorites. We know what mine was. Your favorite might be everything Charlaine Harris and all things supernatural. Maybe you love Danielle Steel. Stephen King versus Dean Coontz. It is okay to have a favorite, but it’s time to challenge yourself to try something new.
I haven’t even discussed those who think reading fiction is a waste of time. These types stick to non-fiction books such as histories and biographies. This is a complete disservice to your brain. Non-fiction is essential as well, but it won’t stretch your creativity as much as fiction.
As writers, we have to do everything we can to improve our skills. Reading is the absolute best way to expand our vocabulary. Reading across genres helps us evaluate the styles used and take what works for us. How can you write a love scene for your kickass bank thief if you’ve never read a proper romance novel? If you intend to target and conquer the huge and ever expanding young adult market, you’ll never do so if you aren’t well read in the YA genres. They have their own style and pace.
If you already read across genres, help me out. Has it helped your writing? Leave me some comments. If you don’t yet read multiple genres, tell me what’s holding you back.
ALSO – tell me what your favorite genre is! We all have one, so let’s admit it. Like I said, I fall back on science fiction when I need some comfort.
I challenge you to go out today and buy a book that you know you wouldn’t normally buy. Give it a chance. Write a review for it. You might find you enjoyed getting out of your comfort zone.