I think one of the worst assumptions to make as a writer is to think you should only read books in the genre you are writing in. That’s like deciding you can only interact with people from your hometown.
Being creative is about not having boundaries, so you shouldn’t be afraid to think let alone read outside the box. On the other hand, it’s probably not a good idea to stop reading in your genre altogether because that is ultimately what you would like to write and it can serve as the best blueprint to get you there.
It’s funny because I primarily identify as a fiction writer but I became drawn to the immediacy of Nonfiction writing (especially memoirs) in the 10th grade. Towards the end of graduate school, I was devouring memoirs whole, one after the other and I continued reading them long after I finished my Masters.
Just yesterday, I picked up the first fiction book I’ve set out to read in a long time. And it felt so strange! It’s been nice getting wrapped up in the plot, characters, and story line of a fictional story again though. I’ve missed it.
Overall, I’ve learned that it’s important to read other genres because they might help you in ways you never thought possible. For example, the rhythmic cadence of a poem might help you with the pacing in a fiction story. Or the straight-forward approach to Non-fiction may help you learn how to smooth out all the flowery language in your fiction.
And there’s no other dialogue that flows better than that from a play. Let what you read take your creative inclinations to a whole other level. Let your writing morph into its own based on what influences you.
So tell me: what genres influence your writing? How has reading outside of your main genre helped you? I love hearing from you, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!