I think I already told you about Writer Unboxed, a lovely writerly site, full of good ideas, thought-provoking questions, fine articles, practical wisdom, and so on.
Well, today on WU, David Corbett posed the question of reading or not reading while writing. He begins by observing that many writers seem to prefer not to – to avoid the risk of imitation, mostly – and then goes on to make a very convincing case for the opposite course of action.
Corbett not only has no ill effects from the books he reads while writing, but – by drawing a line between imitation and emulation (see the Saul Bellow quotation that gives the title to this post), finds them to be of great help in several ways.
I guess that, in the end, it’s rather a matter of individual preference. We should know just how susceptible are to what kind of risk – and there is the fact that never reading anything while writing may result in never reading at all, when one writes all the time – which is hardly desirable, is it?
I read while writing – with the caveat that I avoid fiction on the same subject I’m writing about. Other than that… well, it varies. Some books I find stimulating in some of the ways described in the article (and then there is the matter of avoiding the motley effect of different things learned at different stages), while with others nothing much happens…
But do read the article – down to the very interesting matter of the ideal reader – and then come back and tell me: what about you? Do you read while writing, o Readers?