Pages

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reading Outside of Your Writing Genre

Okay writers, you've all heard the advice, right? Read a lot and be sure to include books that are NOT in your genre. But how many of us actually do that?

I confess, I tend to choose books that are in the same genre in which I write, which is YA spec fiction. Now I didn't always do that. Of course, I've always gravitated toward science fiction and fantasy, but I've also read romance (contemporary and historical), thrillers, and mysteries. I've never been too much of a fan of pure literary works (sorry to those who do enjoy them, but it's just not my thing) and I've never really been into non-fiction. Over the past year, I've pretty much stayed to the YA novels, with one exception. I love James Rollins, who writes thrillers, and usually try to pick up his books when they are released.

But something about my current WIP has me down lately. The past two chapters have been very dark and depressing, and I've made very little progress with the writing there (yeah I know, bad writer). Anyway, I was in the mood for something more uplifting and without the usual teen angst that comes with YA, so I wandered over to the romance section at Barnes and Noble last week. And I found the newest release by an author that I used to read all of the time: Julia Quinn. She writes historical romances set in England during the Regency Era. Anyways, I ended up buying What Happens In London and I'm really enjoying it right now. I had forgotten how funny her books can be (she always includes an element of humor in her stories).

Now I'm a little less than halfway through, but something positive is happening. I'm finding myself actually thinking about my book again. Shocking, I know:) But folks, I was at the point where I didn't even want to open the word document to look at my ms anymore. I mean, the bad things happening in there was pulling me down. So I guess the change of scenery (literally) that I'm getting from Ms. Quinn's book is giving me a breather, and now I'm able to concentrate on my book again. I have to get the thing finished sometime, right?

Do you find yourself reading books in different genres? Why or why not? Do you find that reading different types of books helps your own writing?

18 comments:

  1. I haven't been so great about this, but I do think it's a good idea. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I read THE ROAD, CORNFLAKES WITH JOHN LENNON, and LONE SURVIVOR, which are clearly out of my genre. It's funny that each book, especially the first and last, has profound impacts on my life, and indirectly, my writing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I read 80% fantasy and YA and 20% of everything else. I do like to genre hop a bit, even non-fiction as long as it's not sad, but fantasy is definitely #1 in my book. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I read everything, and I mean everything. As we speak, I'm currently reading a travel memoir, a high fantasy book, a paranormal romance, and a book about writing. They all have their merits, but I still read mainly for enjoyment, not for craft comparison. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I read everything I can get my hands on, but lately I have been falling behind with the YA books. I'm so excited to dig into my big list of things to read!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've been reading mainly YA but I break it up with lit fiction as well. I don't read too many other fiction genres (although I love historical biographies), but I'm actually reading STRAY by Rachel Vincent at the moment and I guess that's romance.

    As much as I love YA, it's always nice to have a break from the teen angst.

    Good luck with the ms!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love reading outside my genre, I love romance novels, and when I started writing I thought that's what I would be a romance novelist... boy was I wrong!!! I'm very much a mystery writer, now I'm unsure if it's YA or adult, but that is half the fun, still trying it all out!!!

    I've just got into reading YA, it's been nice!! You guys have shown me quite a few books I've missed out on! I find it refreshing to read new books especially outside of your genre. You'd be surprised all the new ideas you can come up with!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love the idea that we're supposed to read outside our genre! I always feel a little guilty for reading things that don't "help" my writing, kwim? But I love to read lots of different things, from thrillers to non-fiction to the occasional romance.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think you'd love SOULLESS by Gail Carriger. Look into it. Congrats for getting inspired about your MS again.

    ReplyDelete
  10. i love reading,you have a great blog here :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I try, key word = try, to read a variety in the month. I, of course, read my YA, but then I put in a couple of classics, a few non-fiction, some middle grade, and adult fiction.
    I'm in two book clubs, so that helps, but I always can read through my YA so much faster.

    PS- There's an award for you on my blog...

    ReplyDelete
  12. I try, key word = try, to read a variety in the month. I, of course, read my YA, but then I put in a couple of classics, a few non-fiction, some middle grade, and adult fiction.
    I'm in two book clubs, so that helps, but I always can read through my YA so much faster.

    PS- There's an award for you on my blog...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yay! I love when something like that sparks the ideas! I like mysteries myself, haven't read one in a while, but I usually read YA, that's good though - to check out the other genres. Glad you've found some good books ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  14. You know, my reading habits have always been very ecclectic. One minute I'll be reading some Hemingway or Eudora Welty, then I might pick up some bit of difficult literary fic like Toni Morrison, or maybe something less so like Time Traveler's Wife or Lovely Bones, but I also enjoy YA (both literary and commercial), and YET, I love fantasy and romance (although I'm extremely selective with romance stories) as well. It all depends on my mood. But always, reading a book helps to spark my own creativity and makes me long to write. Often, I struggle to finish a book because I just want to get back to my own, so I'm not surprised that reading something you enjoy has helped to reignite your passion to write. It's definitely a good lesson for all of us. Reading serves as one of the best muses, I think.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I read these most: historical romance (I absolutely ADORE Julia Quinn... she and Laura Kinsale are on my hero list), YA, semi-literary, classics, fantasy, and will read pretty much anything if it's recommended by a trusted source. I have NO IDEA if reading helps with my writing, but I don't know how to NOT read, so maybe it's all connected.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I stick primarily to YA, but I branch out to middle grade and adult suspense on a regular basis. I feel like it helps keep my writing fresh.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have found, generally without fail, that if I branch out of YA I'm disappointed and can't get through the book.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As much as I love YA, it's always nice to have a break from the teen angst.

    Work from home India

    ReplyDelete