Chapter 6 – “But I don’t drink absinthe.”

Now, that quote might not make sense to you, or you might not get what it has to do with writing, but there is a connection. A vague one, but still… Let me tell you what it is.

Bookshelf of colorsPicture by idreamlikecrazy/purple-lover

I had a few chats the other evening, the first going along the lines of: “Who would drink absinthe? It tastes horrible!” “They don’t drink it for the taste.” Later on, another chat considering a long drink: “Drink that.” “I don’t like it.” “So?” “…But I don’t drink absinthe.” Basically what he said was he didn’t like it, so he wouldn’t drink it just because it’s alcoholic. And that is perfectly fine.

However, when you’re a writer, your ‘thing’ is books, and you shouldn’t turn down a book because you don’t like the taste – the genre. Saying “but I don’t read sci-fi” when someone suggests a book can lead to missing out on some great adventures and opportunities to learn. Having a favorite genre is perfectly okay and no one has to like everything, but you shouldn’t limit your reading too much if you’re planning on becoming a writer. Why?

For writers, it’s important to get to know others people’s writing styles and how different genres work. There’s always something new you can learn, whether you’re a published, successful writer, or just starting out. Developing yourself and honing your skills should always be on your to-do list.

You don’t have to read everything the equal amount, but give other genres a chance. Perhaps you won’t find your new favorite book, but you might find great dialogue or memorable characters, or a plot so compelling you finish the story in one go. At the very least, you might recognize a few things that just don’t work, and know to avoid it in your own story later.

What I’m trying to say is that the thing that normally works and is acceptable – don’t like, don’t touch – isn’t so productive in writing. You shouldn’t judge all books in one category without trying them every once in a while, just to see what’s up. So if you don’t want to read something because it’s romance, read it because it’s a book. As a writer, books are your craft, so you should try to learn as much as you can about them as a whole, instead of picking out only the parts you love.

I mostly read fantasy books and it’s my favorite genre, but I’ve tried to make the effort of reading a variety of things. An autobiography here, a true war story there, and i learn something new each time.

If you think about the last five books you’ve read, how many main genres are there?  Pick a genre you haven’t touched in a while and then search your local library for a book representing it. Have you ever found an amazing book from a genre you don’t normally enjoy?


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