You are what you read

I think that writer’s, for the most part, love to read.  I get great joy out of perusing shelves at bookstores and libraries, thinking about books I have seen online and seeing them “in the flesh”.  During heavy grading times, I like to get away and read something someone else has already tweaked and that tends to be of the lighter variety.  During those times, that is completely appropriate and necessary for me.

But just like it is easy to get into a habit of poor eating, we can get into the habit of poor reading.

Here’s what I mean.  Elaine and Rosalyn both write middle grade novels.  They are both avid readers of MG and will shoot names of books back and forth to each other.  This is a good reason why their writing and ability to capture the voice of this age group is so well done.

I’m writing women’s lit but until a little while ago it had been a long while since I read women’s lit.  As a high school teacher, I was trying to stay caught up on the YA because that is a great way for me to get my reluctant readers going, but it was messing with the voice in my writing.  Even though my WIP has some younger characters, the narrator is not.  I have really been dedicated to reading women’s lit and have seen a significant difference in the way I want to create my story.  It is easier too because I’m putting women’s lit in, I have a chance at getting women’s lit out.

Sure, it’s nice to jump genres, and I think even appropriate at times, just like cheesecake is appropriate at times. But I don’t need a medical degree to know that eating cheesecake all the time will not produce the results I want physically, and reading genres that are not what I’m writing make it nearly as impossible for me to get the results I want mentally and verbally.

Are you an avid reader of the genre you are writing?  Have you found that author who you just want to read more because of the improvement you see in your writing?

3 thoughts on “You are what you read

  1. I started reading YA a few years ago after I wrote my first YA story. Now I love it, and it's what I read most of the time.

    I'm not sure if/how it's improved my writing because I went through a big learning curve this last year, and it's more due to what I learned off writing blogs.

    I'll keep reading YA, with a sprinkle of others though, because I've fallen in love with it.

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  2. Love this analogy! I think you definitely need to read in your genre, but a balanced diet is a good thing too. I had an epiphany moment a few weeks ago when reading an adult novel and knew just how to fix a problem in my MG manuscript.

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  3. As Elaine, I love this analogy, Tasha. I think it's definitely a good idea to spread yourself thin across the genres, apart from the obvious learning benefits, the boundaries between them are so thin and fluid that you might think you write one thing but it tends towards another anyway. I thought I wrote women's fiction, wondered if it was also contemporary fiction but was told by an agent it was general fiction! I also thought I had quite an eclectic reading style but when I started listing my reads over at Goodreads, realised that I read way more contemporary fiction than anything else. I have since slightly re-dressed the balance but realise that my heart is definitely more in contemporary fiction. We are supposed to enjoy what we read so I don't beat myself up about it too much. But yes, keeping a balanced reading diet is always at the back of my mind. Great post!

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