I like to blog about writing. I like to read about writing. In general, I like writing.
This isn’t about writing.
Well, not directly.
It’s about something writers have to do. Writers should read.
If a writer states that he does not read, it’s very likely that they aren’t a very successful writer. Reading is one of the fuels that make writing go. We learn from reading, we get inspired, we think, we grow, we compare, we imitate (never copy!).
Reading is essential.
You’ll hear this advice everywhere, in every writer’s blog, in every how-to book, in every podcast.
Yes, I’m that original.
Screw it. It’s worth repeating even if everyone else says it. Reading is non-optional if you want to write.
Over the last week or so I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I read a lot, but lately I haven’t been reading widely.
What’s the difference you ask?
Well, I read on average one novel per week or so, depending on how the munchkin is doing that week and how much work I have to do.
The problem is that I’m not reading anything new. In the past year, I’ve only read a few new books. I’ve preferred sticking to old favorites. I’ve ACQUIRED quite a few new books and authors, but I haven’t been reading them.
Even reading old favorites has merit. I’m reading the Dresden books by Jim Butcher and I love noticing how the craft improves as the series progresses. I’ve been noticing a few new things here and there that have given me a few fresh ideas for my own prose. Still, it feels like I’m stagnating.
The problem is that there’s only so much the old favorites can do for my writing right now. My reading choices have been driven by a need for comfort and stress relief. Reading the old faves is safe. It’s territory I know.
It feels stale, and at times lately, my writing feels that way too.
I’ve decided to fix that right now. I took a look at my book collection (both digital and dead tree) and I have HUNDREDS of books that I haven’t read yet! I knew that maybe I had dozens waiting, but I was surprised to see that I was in the double digits! It’s a waste! It’s a travesty!
Science Fiction! Fantasy! Mystery! Non-Fiction! They cover everything!
So, starting tonight, I’m only reading books I’ve never read before. I will continue this trend until the end of the year, or the end of the list, whichever comes first.
I’ll let you know how that goes.