As new fiction writer, I was astounded to read some of the comments that indicated that there are writers who do not read. Certainly, writers, as do all creative people, must find their own method of producing their wares. Equally certainly, writing is not a one approach fits all discipline, and yet, reading and readers define the market, the competition and the genre in which we function. It seems to me that we learn, not so much from our formal coursework and reference books as from reading other author’s works, seeing how our editors revise our work, listening to our publishers and observing what actually works in the market.
I’ve heard it said that writers should write the books that they would want to read. That seems to imply that if one does not read one would have difficulty knowing what to write. Likewise, I have read comments by authors who avoid reading within their genre due to fear of accusations of plagiarism. It seems to me that the best defense against plagiarism is to know the works of the other authors in your genre as thoroughly as possible in order to minimize similarities between their works and yours that could give rise to claims of plagiarism in the first place. Of course, that implies reading them.
Personally, I’m a life-long reader. The number of books per year depends on the pressure of other obligations, but in the highest years, fifty to seventy per year in multiple genres ranging from murder mysteries, foreign or political intrigue, techno-thrillers, science fiction and similar things…maybe fifteen to twenty in the lowest years. My reading directly influenced my writing, as did many varied life experiences, and a day job (before I retired from it) that required writing thousands of pages of non-fiction. I try to write stories I would want to read. Why? Because by reading intensively, I learned that I love many different types of stories…but that as a reader, I am allergic to certain writing styles, especially the ones aimed at bringing the story in at a certain word count. Smart readers can always tell.
As always, there are many other points of view. Please feel free (after reading) to write your comments!