What do you Read While you Write?

I read an interesting article earlier today written by two authors that got me thinking a little bit.

Now obviously I’m not talking about actually writing and reading at the same time. What I mean is during the days or months that you’re working on a writing project, what do you read? And my answer to this particular question is a little perplexing. I don’t. I don’t read while I’m writing. Which is completely bizarre, but I think it’s true. 2013 and 2014, the only years for which I could possibly try to answer this question, were my two worst reading years in recent memory. And those were the two years in which I was writing.

But I think I’m the odd man out here. Because I know several bloggers who manage to read 50-75 books each year while writing more than I ever have. But I also bet there are a few people in similar situations to mine. But I’ll only know if you tell me!

So, what do you read while you write?

53 thoughts on “What do you Read While you Write?

  1. I don’t really plan what I read: usually I end up reading whatever captures my attention (which is usually in the genre I’m writing), and then my attempts to read books I feel I should be reading (nonfic and fiction alike).


  2. I’m pretty sure you get far too many comments to remember all of our details, so I’ll point out again that I’m writing my first novel. I’m sitting just over 44k words. In other words, NOOB answer! I’ve been gobbling up stories that are similar in content or genre. I’ve read a couple of witchy/vamp/magic books since I started it. I’ve read even more comics with similar genre type. Annnnnd, I’ve been watching as many movies/shows as I can with any elements I could pull from, learn from, or find something I do or definitely DON’T want to be in my story. One of the books was so-so, but exemplified examples of what I HATE in a love interest scenario. I’m hoping it makes me more aware of accidental underlying issues that can creep in when we don’t intend it (if that makes any sense).


  3. It’s a varable really, I read anything and everything if I feel like it’s what I need at the time to help me write. Ideally though I would read somebody like Thomas Wolfe to help with my voice. or I might choose another writier depending on the piece it may remind me of.


  4. I’ve done both extremes. While I wrote the first installment of my series, I read nothing. That was years of reading nothing. Then, as I switched to the second novel and started attending conventions, I started reading like mad. I’m posted new reviews of novels, short stories and poetry collections 5d/w. [I keep poetry collections to less than 1/w. My degrees are in poetry.] The short stories and novels are mostly sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy as I’m writing urban fantasy. Basically, I’m learning the canon, the market, the lexicon and the major players. It also helps me to see what I want and don’t want in my own writing.


  5. I research history, mythology, news, and science. This usually leads to a lot of bios, and it becomes circular. Also, though it might not coincide with my genre, how a situation might have been handled by another writer. – To be more specific though, I write in the morning, nap, and then read at night. Read something. I might not even finish before I move on, but read something, because I always have a curiosity. Right now, full books go, as of late, read something classic like everything by Steinbeck, reread something I read when I was too young to understand, and also since when one writes they look at books differently, and last , read something contemporary, like Cormac McCarthy. I’ll add to contemporary by having friends recommend something by a new author. New meaning 1 -10 years of publishing. That said, sometimes I take a short break from full novels, but there isn’t a correlation to reading them, and me writing. I always wake up and write something.

    Great question. Thanks.


  6. I don’t read when I write either! I worry that I’ll start borrowing ideas from the book I’m reading and I don’t want to influence my writing. However, I’m working on a sequel now and I did take a break and read. But now that I’ve resumed work, I’m not reading anything. You’re not alone!!!


  7. I read very little while focussing on a project, but I still read a bit before bed–it helps put me to sleep when my mind’s still on crack from creating worlds and characters and drama.


  8. I usually write because something that I read inspired me but then while writing, I have to do research to get my facts straight. In the past I always read books on the subject in question, but lately I found that getting reliable answers from Youtube videos (specially those from reputable universities) are much easier and faster. Another question writers should be asking is: which writers should we read: https://claasecelia.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/which-writers-do-we-read/


  9. I read all the time, write all the time. I don’t necessarily read in the same genre as I’m writing.

    The late Terry Pratchett was quoted as saying that he found if he read to much in his genre (comic fantasy) he thought he’d just recycle other people’s work. So he recommended reading widely, every genre, fact and fiction and it’ll all feed into your own writing, giving it more depth and interest.

    i just read what takes my fancy anyway, but it was nice to hear Terry felt the same way


  10. If I’m deep in writing a WIP, all I want to do is work on that WIP. I don’t want to read, I don’t want to write other books, etc. I also don’t tend to read in my genre much, as I don’t want to rip anyone off on accident. I make myself aware that such stuff is out there, but I don’t actually read/watch it.

    I think there are two main books I take interest in – books I stumble across that genuinely seem like stories I want to read, completely unrelated to my writing life; and books that are classics, staples, and which have beautifully written language. The first is just for pleasure. The second is a way for me to see how good books are written, how good sentences are constructed, and how language can be manipulated into something elegant.


    • I think you’re one of the few who commented that you don’t read in your genre, or hardly at all, while you write. Hm. I should probably read more classics for the very reasons you mentioned. But eh, I’m not wholly interested in them.


  11. While I was at university doing a Creative Writing course, we pretty much had to read the kind of stuff we were writing for references to our ‘inspirations’. A lot of the time it was helpful, reading similar stuff either inspired certain aspects, and at other times it made me think ‘well I definitely don’t want to do that’. I think in general I gravtiate my reading towards what I write, because that’s what I enjoy. But I write chick lit, and at the moment I’m reading George R. R. Martins first book of A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones. Which is nothing like what I’m writing, but his writing is so visual, his descriptions elegantly written without being obvious. You can find inspiration in anything you read, even if it’s by accident or if you think ‘I’d NEVER do that!’

    Short answer: I read what I want. And then I write.


  12. i think for me it really depends on how far in i am with the WIP. for instance, right now, i am about 10,000 words into a MG space sci-fi, and i have been reading a lot of sci-fi right before writing and right now while i am writing. if i am revising i am often reading craft books more. if i am stumped in my writing, or am taking a break, i would say i tend to read more than when writing consistently, simply because i’ve more time to read if i’m not writing


  13. It depends on what I’m writing. I’ll either read the genre I’m writing, or something completely opposite. If I’m engrossed in my writing, say for a kids book, reading other kids books can sometimes help, but it often distracts me from my own story, so I’ll go non-fiction, or something darker. Sometimes I need to take my mind off my writing when I read, so reading in the same genre keeps my mind firmly entrenched in my writing. I need a break from that.


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