Monday, January 3, 2011

Reading and Writing - sorry, no 'Rithmatic

Happy New Year!
2010 for me wasn't ALL bad - there were bits that were quite enjoyable, and some that were less so, but I guess you can't have a year of all up, right? Compared to others, the last year wasn't really that bad at all.

I was sitting and wondering what I should write for this month - what pearls of wisdom should I impart to all of you on my first post of 2011 (wow, I have to start remembering to write that new year on stuff!). I haven't written much of late, been kind of stalled on the inspiration front, add in a healthy dose of real life distractions, and blammo! here I am faced with another month's blogging and no real idea what to write about.

So I picked up my shiny new Kindle that my hubby so kindly got me for Christmas (which I LOVE, by the way, and my bookshelves are going to thank me), and that got me thinking about writing and reading. You've heard it a million times - if you want to be a writer, you need, MUST be a reader. It's like trying to be a painter without ever going to an art gallery or museum, or a musician without ever listening to music. You can't do it, or at least, not well.

But there's a great debate among writers. Do you read WHILE you're writing? Or rather, do you read in the genre you're writing?

Some say no, never, because they feel it saps their inspiration or they're afraid of accidentally stealing an idea or something from a book they're reading, having it seep into their work. Some say they read, but not the genre they're writing, for similar reasons.

Some, like me, read voraciously and definitely IN the genre I'm writing. For me, I find it amazingly stimulating to my creative center, pulling me into that space where I MUST write. Maybe it's some kind of neural trigger. I also love to read different voices, because I'm a person who hates stagnation. So I like to try and find different tones and voices for my work. My tween modern day series needs to read differently than my YA historical. So when I was writing SMOKE & MIRRORS (may 2011 find it a home), I was reading a lot of historicals set in the time period of the late 1800's, to put myself in that frame of mind, to get the cadence and speech, of terminology and colloquialisms. While I'm writing the Library series, I read a lot of Rick Riordan and other tween fantasy authors, because it sets that kind of voice in my head.

What do you think? Could you or do you read while you're writing? And if you do, what are you reading?


  1. Yes, I read while I'm writing and usually not in the genre I'm working on but not always. Right now I'm writing a fantasy - YA and reading or rather rereading Bujold's Sharing Knife series. This is fantasy but really a romance. I have been accused of inhaling books but I do like to read.

  2. I'm a reviewer for YA Books Central so I'm always reading! This last year I've been soaking up YA dystopias and also paranormal romances. It's fun to see the trends and also know what's out there. It really helps with your own writing. I used to laugh at those who tell me they are writing a children's or YA book and that they didn't like reading these books. How can you write that genre if you don't read it?

  3. I average about 2.5 books a week (all YA or MG). Last September, I decided to really focus on YA/MG that are fantasy and with a male protagonist, since that's what I write. I found that it is a great benefit to my writing.

  4. Read some of Chris Crutcher's books. When I was writing a guy's POV, Sarah Zarr recommended them.

  5. Why, thanks, Kim! I'll go pick some up right now! :-)

  6. I read while I'm writing. Good books inspire me. When writing historical books I think it's good to read other historicals, like you said, to learn the flavor of the language and customs. I read both fiction and nonfiction when writing my YA historical.

    Darby, try David Lubar and Robert Cormier too.

  7. Bev, I totally forgot about them - thank you for pointing them out to me! This is the most helpful site for YA/MG writers around!

  8. I read way too much non fiction these days. When I get a chance to read at all. I've been in a huge lull in regards to reading and writing for the last several months. Maybe after writing about 3 dozen books in the past 10 years or so has burned me out. I don't know. Here's hoping that 2011 will get me writing, and reading, again.