I have heard the argument for both sides on whether or not to read while we are completing our stories. Does reading help influence us to write? Or influence us to write like our favorite authors? Is reading a good idea when we are writing?
Let’s look at the arguments against and for reading while writing your book or short story.
The argument against:
Reading is a distraction and precious time taken away from writing. Time spent with our noses in another book could have been spent getting another chapter done on the novel or another rewrite of a short story. We have to use our time wisely.
Some writers are also worried that they will lose their voice or start to plagiarise the voice some of their favorite authors. We will start regurgitating what we just read creating stereotypical characters and stories. This happens especially in beginning writers who are still trying to discover their personal voice and writing style.
The argument for:
When writing we should read everything from fiction, how to books for writers, dictionaries, magazines, and anything else we can get our hands on. Books allow writers to expand their inspiration. Reading helps us develop our craft and become better because we are reading the authors who are already published.
In the arguments against people are worried about being influenced by their favorite writers, perhaps that means we should step away from our favorites and start reading genres outside our usual standards. Not only with reading outside the box expand the understanding of different types of writing styles but we could also find a new favorite author. 🙂
On the other hand some authors read in the same genre that they write because it gives them a spark and influence to keep going.
There are also writing courses out there that encourage copying the writing styles of classics to learn a specific style of writing. This is not plagiarizing (unless you publish it) it is learning to write from a master by becoming an apprentice. Remember we fell in love with writing, most likely, because we love to read and wanted to create stories too.
Again this is all up to the individual writer. There is no wrong or right way to go about getting our stories down on paper.
Let me hear what you think. Did you think we should read while writing? Or save reading for time between projects?
So keep writing (and even reading)!