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Reading Too Much

June 17, 2010

Even though I’ve been writing for years, I’m still fairly new to the publishing side of the field. What frustrates me the most is all the advice. The line between what’s right and wrong are blurred most of the time. I often feel confused. One person says yes and another says no.

Writers tell you to read everything you can get your hands on especially when you are first starting out. You can learn so much from those who have succeeded in writing before you: techniques, approaches, etc. I read an article by Noelle Sterne in The Writer about not reading too much while your writing. I can understand the point of that. You don’t want to mimic their writing style. You should  strive for originality. My question is: How much is too much?

I write horror. Developing an original idea in this genre is very difficult. So much has already been done. Reading is kind of crucial in this case. However, at what point do you put the books down and find your voice? Is there really a such thing as reading too much? If so, do you think reading deprivation is crucial in finding our own voice?

Andrea is currently reading the first book, Dead Until Dark, in the True Blood series. Really loving it.
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5 Comments
  1. June 17, 2010 6:02 am

    I agree that reading too much can effect your own voice, but reading too little may make your writing irrelevant. There has to be some happy medium that you arrive at despite the mass of advice out there. I like to write first thing in the morning, while I’m still close to that dream state and my mind in unmarred by the myriad of stimuli that surround us all. Later in the day, I find time to read my favorite books, blogs, articles, etc. Finding a balance between the two can be difficult and I constantly reread my own writing, listening for my voice and making sure it doesn’t mimic those I’ve been reading. Good luck finding and holding on to your voice, which sometimes can take you for a wild ride.

  2. adampb permalink
    June 17, 2010 7:03 am

    I agree that there is probably a balance. Sometimes I feel that you could read too much as a means of procrastinating from the task at hand. Too little and you can stunt creativity.
    I like to read people’s work to see how they think and where they are going with their work. It also helps to see what they have done with it stylistically. I know every writer has their own voice, but it’s good to know how other people speak as it might just add some new ideas to the toolbox or vocabulary.

  3. June 17, 2010 10:22 am

    What an adsurd idea…there is no such thing as reading too much. Reading teaches and inspires. It lights the fire that burns in our brains and forces us to keep writing. A good writer cannot loose their voice by reading the voices of other writers – it can only make our voice louder. Read folk! Read everything…..all the time. Read like your life depends on it because it does…….

  4. Zora permalink
    June 17, 2010 10:46 am

    It’s true that when you read a book and love it you suddenly start writing like the author of that book, but a few months ago I was reading an article that said that imitating the voice of another writer helps you find your own voice. It makes sense if you think about it. When you go through the editing process you will be able to notice what you have imitated and what you haven’t, and from the things that you have imitated you will see what works and what doesn’t. Then you can give the imitation parts a twist of your own until they become completely yours.
    I don’t believe there is such a thing as too much reading. Unless you see that you are reading so much that you have stopped writing. Then you should put those books down and pick up your pen.
    Imitating isn’t bad on a first draft. But on the final draft, make sure the story is your own.

  5. June 17, 2010 7:30 pm

    This kind of proves that writing advice in contradictory. I’ve heard people tell me they stop reading when they write, but I don’t have a lot of time to switch back and forth so read any chance I get, no matter what the WIP.

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