Should You Read Your Genre as You Write in It?

As Stephen King so aptly puts it in his manual, “On Writing:” “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” He continues to advise to read “widely” and in a multitude of genres so that you might further broaden your knowledge of different styles, rules (and how those rules can be broken), character arcs and more.

An interesting topic that has come up several times in the writing community—and the creative community as a whole—is reading the same genre one is currently writing in. Seems like an obvious thing to do, right? Read published (and possibly best-selling) books in the current genre you’re crafting a manuscript in?

Well, maybe not.

Ultimately, every writer is different—and where some authors draw inspiration from similar genres to their own, some—like self-published indie writer superstar, Hugh Howey—actually don’t read their genre as much or at all. As he writes in his post, “My Advice to Aspiring Authors:” “I also read a wide variety of works, but hardly ever in my genres. I read literary fiction and history, non-fiction and science.” Find the post in its entirety here. Howey has also said that reading his own genre causes him to second-guess what he himself is creating, and as many other authors can attest to, even a kernel of self-doubt can be a death sentence to a budding manuscript.

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Artists in other avenues also avoid their own “genres”—or the art itself at all. Joanna Newsom, renowned lyricist, harp player and wife to Andy Samberg, spoke to The Guardian about her process while creating “Divers,” her latest album. The article states: “It sounds intense. Newsom even avoided listening to all other music in case it influenced hers. ‘It just happens, your brain absorbs s–t without realizing,’ she says, ‘which has been hard for my husband because he’s a huge fan and loves music playing all the time. So it’s a negotiation.’” Find the article in its entirety here.

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Author Roz Morris has published over a dozen books in her career (some of which were ghostwritten), and was interviewed by popular writing website TheWritePractice.com on “Why Writers Should Read.” When asked whether there were any authors who tremendously influenced her style, Morris responded with this: “I am a style sponge. Possibly this is why I can ghostwrite. I have to be very careful what I read while I’m writing, especially towards the final stages of an edit…there are two kinds of writers who are fatal for my style. The English satirists like Kingsley Amis—I love his spark but I can’t take a story seriously after an encounter with him. And Graham Greene—his quiet, disturbed introversion leaks into my work.” Read the complete post here.

As proven by the three above examples, creative individuals can be easily influenced by other forms of art, which is why so many gravitate toward books, music, movies and other inspirational avenues. It’s important to learn and understand your own ways of creating though—if you feel that your author voice may be impacted negatively or your confidence derailed when you’re comparing yourself to greatness…then read another book!

When you’re ready for Midnight Publishing to edit your work (and you’ve taken a break from the book you’re reading), we are here for you. We offer free samples of your first 1,000 words, so contact us today! Happy Holidays from your friends at Midnight Publishing—the best editing and ghostwriting company in Phoenix!