Pros and Cons of Reading While Writing

Writers need to replenish their reserves of creativity frequently while writing the first draft of their romance novel, and one of the best ways to do that is by reading the work of other writers. Not only will reading other romances keep you current with the changing marketplace, it can fire your imagination in unexpected ways. Unfortunately, the flip side is that reading romances, particularly those in the same subgenre you're writing in, can have a detrimental effect on your work. For example:

Advantages

  • Reading can keep you motivated. Whether the book you read is good or bad, it can inspire you to write.

  • Reading new titles can keep you aware of market trends. This can be especially critical when writing a category romance or in a hot subgenre.

  • Reading debut authors can keep you aware of publisher expectations. Knowing what grabbed an editor's interest at the publisher you're planning to target can be especially helpful while you write.

  • Reading refills your creative reservoir. Authors are artists who need to have their creativity batteries frequently recharged; reading is an excellent way of firing up your imagination.

Disadvantages

  • Reading can subconsciously alter your own writing style. This is especially problematic if it happens during the middle of a book.

  • Reading too much cuts into your writing time. Writing will probably be a part-time job; spending too much time reading can eat up valuable writing time.

  • Reading in the same subgenre while you're writing could lead to unintended plagiarism. New writers often find themselves emulating the work of their idols. Reading a new novel by your favorite author could backfire, though, if you find yourself lifting phrases and plot devices and incorporating them into your own.

  • Reading in the same subgenre while you're writing could stifle your creativity. If you're writing a scene with a talking house pet, for example, and read a similar scene by another author that didn't work, you might be tempted to change, or eliminate, your own scene unnecessarily.

Some authors have no difficulty reading similar works while writing their first drafts; others restrict their reading material to novels outside their particular subgenre. As with all things related to the writing craft, you should choose the method that works best for you.

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