When I was writing my first book, Unfinished Business, I avoided reading fiction novels. For starters, I didn't want to unconsciously infuse the other book's storyline into my storyline or borrow scenes, and such. Is that form of plagiarism? Probably not, but I try to be remain ethical in everything that I do. Don't want to jinx my success, you know. Secondly, since I struggled seriously with finding time to write, I'd be plaques BIG time with guilt for reading a book when I needed to be finishing writing one!
However, as I'm working on my second novel--a spinoff of the first, I've changed my position on this matter. As a writer it's important to read a lot. Right! I'm sure we all agree on that. Just the same, as writers, we need to write a lot! Duh, right?
There's only one way to accomplish this, I've finally realized. Do them simultaneously. When I tried this recently, I benefited significantly from
reading the great writing of one of my favorite authors, Sandra Brown. First off, the story, French Silk, was awesome, one of the best suspense stories I've read in awhile. The story was set in New Orleans. By the time I finished the story, I felt like I'd visited the culturally rich city. that I expected anything less from Sandra Brown.
Anyway, back to the story. Reading Sandra Brown's vividly described scenes, realistic characters, and her showing of the story rather than telling were both exciting and inspirational. My excitement as a reader is obvious. As a writer, I was excited because I was reminded of what my own writing needed. After I finished the book, I wanted to describe the kind of jewelry my protagonist wears, what hair accessories she likes, what brand of weave she likes. I'm excited about showing how her disgust for the way her mothers loose ways during her upbringing plays into her eventual resolution to her own loose ways.
See the double benefit? How do you balance your writing and reading life? Do you only when you're not writing? Or do you do a little of both like I did?