There are a lot of folks out there blogging about what NOT to do. “Top 5 Mistakes New Writers Make.” “Top 30 Ways New Writers Fail to Engage on Page One.” “Top 100 Things You Don’t Know about Querying Agents.” The list goes on.
My point is, with all this expert testimony out there, we are bound to find some common threads, and in fact, we do. One of the most prevalent is the admonition to new writers to keep reading. If you are writing genre fiction, you’ve got to know what’s selling.
“But you told me not to waste time!” you protest. “I don’t have time to read!” Au contraire, Pierre. Your brain needs fuel. Writing burns fuel, and reading replenishes it. You have time before bed, or while you’re driving (I am an audio book junkie), right? Put away the fashion mags, and keep at least one book in process at all times.
“But I’m afraid my writing will start sounding like some other published writer!” You should be so lucky. We are all of us influenced by everything we’ve ever seen or done or heard or read or tasted. We cannot control the composition of all our influences (Into every life, some boring people must enter. And stay, and stay...). What we can do is to make certain our mental diet includes some critical nourishment every day.
Don’t fear the writing of others. Let it inform you. Allow the ideas, voice and pacing of successful writers to wash over you. It may be that things they do differently from you are things you don’t like. Great! That’s a super discovery that informs your writing. But it may just be that some of those successful authors actually know a thing or two. Just saying.
So we’re going to read. But since time, as ever, is scarce, we need a plan. Be efficient; be selective. Here is my 5-Point Guide to Building A “Career” Reading List:
Organize your reading just as you have organized all other aspects of your writing life. Everything you do informs your writing, so shouldn't you make the most of everything you do?
I am a writer and teacher of writing. After a lifetime of attempting to squeeze writing into my busy life as wife, mother, Scout leader, teacher, and far too many additional hats to list here, I have achieved my dream of being published and becoming a 'real writer'. How did I find the time? In this blog I'll share some of my strategies for having it all--and still getting dinner on the table by six.