Can Reading Non-Genre Fiction Kill Your Genre Creativity?

I know, it sounds crazy, right? But I have to tell you, ever since I picked up the book 1Q84 and started reading it, I feel like all the creativity I had to write genre fiction has left me.

It could be other events happening in my life. It could just be writer's block. Or it could even be fear, doubt, a belief that everything I think of and write is crap. A fear that my well has run dry. Those are all things I'll have to deal with on my own.

My grandmother, Cynthia Gibbon, was an artist. I say was not because she is gone (though she does have Alzheimer's and lives in a home), but because she is no longer an artist. When she was younger, she would paint and draw fashion, and she has aa series of paintings depicting people at a roller skating rink.

My mom told me after she went to art school and took an anatomy class, she could no longer draw and paint what she loved to draw and paint. Almost as if knowing she was portraying the human form incorrectly (by Grey's Anatomy - not the TV show - standards) she could no longer draw the figures she loved.

I feel like this relates to what I'm going through. Since I am reading a literary work my ability to think from a genre fiction stantpoint seems to have left.

So, you bet your buns, I stopped reading 1Q84 and started reading the second book in Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth series, The Hand-Tossed Waves. Zombies galore (or Mudo, or Unconsecrated if you know the series)!

I've also downloaded and started reading a sample of Stephen King's Bag of Bones. I've never been much of a King fan, but I'm giving this one a shot because I watched the 2-part TV mini-series on Netflix the other night and it was damn good.

What do you think? Do you think reading the "wrong" kind of book can steal away your genre based creativity or your ability to THINK creatively?

Keeping my head above the water,
Claire L. Fishback

Comments

Angeline said…
Inspiration and creativity naturally waxes and wanes, and I don't think it has to do with what you read.

I'm always reading out of my genre, because I believe reading widely makes you a better writer. Show me a book in any genre without some kind of love interest, or a mystery, or some kind of adventure.

Reading widely is about the lessons we learn; how to do it, and how not to. You learn those lessons from any genre books, and I think widening your reading field is important to make you a more rounded writer.

Am I rambling now?!
I'm the queen of rambling, so ramble away. I agree that reading in other GENRES is good for a genre-writer. You're definitely right about making a well-rounded writer that way.

Perhaps it IS the outside "stuff" going on in my life that is affecting my creativity. Or maybe it is just plain old writer's block (brought on my self-doubt).

Thanks for reading!

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