I’m still recovering from the strokes I had in January, although, frankly, I feel quite normal and do everything I did before. However, I’m waiting to find out when and where I go for a few Physical Therapy sessions which they promised me.
Oh well, here’s my Blog post for this week. I’ll try to do one every week, as I did before. And this is one I’ve been asked about often, namely, “Should a writer read while she’s writing a book?”
Many beginning writers ask if it’s okay to read while writing, or will you, unknowingly, transfer some of what you’ve read into your own book. Most writers manage to keep those separate, but, if it’s a problem for you, make a plan for how to keep them that from happening.
First of all, don’t read a book, or anything, which is too similar to what you’re currently writing. For example, don’t read a romance novel, if you’re writing one. Or a mystery, or a science fiction book, if that’s what you’re working on.
Mystery writers are especially worried about putting some other author’s solution into their book. If you made a synopsis of your book, or even an outline, before you started, you should already know how you expect to end it, so you won’t be tempted to borrow another author’s ending.
I don’t read any fiction when I’m writing my own fiction. Years ago, I wrote two books at the same time, but one was non-fiction, and that worked out fine. In fact, I tend not be reading any other author’s work while I’m writing my own. When I’m concentrating on my own story, I think of it first thing in the morning, and basically all day. Maybe I’m the strange one here, because I just have no desire to read anything but what I’m doing.
However, if you’re in the middle of reading a book when you decide to start writing one of your own, my suggestion would be to stop reading and put that book away until you can do nothing but concentrate on it. Or else, finish reading that book until your mind is completely occupied with your own book. That should be all that fills your thoughts. In fact, you might get ideas for how to handle difficult scenes, without actually copying the method you’ve just read. In other words, if you can get some worthwhile ideas from your reading, it can be useful. However, my advice is to stick with your own work until it’s finished. I’m pretty sure you didn’t want to hear that, so I’m sorry, but I’m a one-book at a time person.