What to Read While Writing

So what do you read while you’re in the middle of a writing project? From my personal experience, and some research and reading of other blogs/articles on the topic, there seem to be several different schools of thought on this topic.

Read in your Genre

If you want to know what’s popular in the genre that you’re writing, then read some recent books. Learn about popular tropes, what current readers expect or enjoy out of that genre, average acceptable story length, and so on. After all, how can you expect to write a cozy mystery or a sword-and-sorcery tale if you’ve never read one (or a few) before?

Read outside your Genre

While it’s important to read what you’re writing, sometimes your brain needs a break. Also, you don’t want to get so bogged down in other people’s stories that you lose sight of what you’re trying to convey with your own. This can sometimes happen if you read too much of the genre that you’re currently writing in. If you’re struggling with this, then give your brain a break and read something completely different.

Read Writing Craft Books

Of course. Even the best writer is always learning. Keep your skills sharp by always writing, and by always learning from other writers.

Read Books for Research for your WIP

Ah, research – one of a writer’s favorite tools of procrastination. But seriously – whether you’re writing a contemporary story that takes place in a location you’ve never been to, a historical epic, or a sci-fi thriller full of science and technical jargon, research makes the story stronger.

Regardless of what you read (or don’t read) while you’re writing, I do believe in that old adage that writers are readers. Generally speaking, the more well-read you are, the more you have to draw on to improve and enhance you own writing.

So keep reading and keep writing!


8 thoughts on “What to Read While Writing

  1. Grace, I was wondering, do you have ideas on how many books we should read on average per year? I’ve been thinking about this, because I regularly get symptoms of the impostor syndrome, feeling that I don’t read enough. Is there even a number? Can there be?


    • I think that each person you might talk to about this would give you a different number. Honestly, I think that your enjoyment and learning from reading is far more important than the actual number of books you read. You can set a personal goal for yourself, if you’d like – for example, if you read 1 book a month last year, then next year you could resolve to read 2 books a month (or something else – set a personal goal that you think you can actually achieve). Comparing ourselves to others is something that can make imposter syndrome really bad (I speak from personal experience on this one).
      If I were you, I would set a personal reading goal (like my example above). Or set a goal to read X number of writing books, X number of genre books, etc, or whatever you want to do. Read for yourself and no one else! 😉


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