Reading growing up for me was a way to escape the stress and hassles of the real world. I can think my life is bad, but whenever I open a book and read about someone else’s problems, made up or not, helps me realize my day isn’t so bad after all. For instance I don’t have “He who shall not be named” trying to kill me.
Writing and reading go hand in hand. I am an avid reader. I read all kinds of stories, from classics to contemporary in different genres. But I mostly enjoy reading books in the genre I want to become involved in. Some people may feel reading in your genre while working on a novel can influence your work. I agree it can influence your work, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
My journalism degree has taught me that research is imperative to writing any great story. Reading other stories in my genre is research to me. It lets me know what already exists and how I can make my ideas more unique. I can dissect a favorite book and figure out why I like it so much. It helps me see where the plot is going and how the author has kept my attention throughout the entire book. Without this how do I know I am not creating a story that already exists?
If reading while writing starts to drown out your own voice or make you doubt your writing will ever be good enough, that is when you need to put the book down and take a deep breath. Then remember that this book was not created overnight. You are only looking at the finished version of a book that was edited many times by many people. You don’t know what the original looked like and you can’t know how your work truly compares to theirs. You must always have faith in yourself. It is okay to enjoy and admire a good book, just don’t let yourself get lost in the process of reading it.