Do you read outside your comfort zone?

old books

As you may or may not know, I’m currently in the midst of a six-month write your novel program through the Australian Writers’ Centre. The program is a workshopping format where 16 aspiring novelists bring their current work in progress to the group and workshop each other’s writing. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but if you’d like to know more or are interested in how the course works, pop over here to find out.

Although I’ve learned so many things from the course and workshopping so far, one of the best things has been having to read other genres of writing.

I like women’s contemporary fiction. If I had to choose my ‘go to’ genre, it would be that. However, I do like to read crime and mystery novels. One of my favourite authors growing up was Agatha Christie.

In the course though, I have had the pleasure of enjoying women’s fiction, sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction, and even a memoir.  And it has been well worth it.

Let’s take fantasy novels for example. I’ve never been a huge fan. Although I enjoy reading the amazing descriptive versus and admire the imagination of the authors, I often find they are complex and filled with too many characters to keep track of. But during the course I’ve been forced to read fantasy – and you know what? I’m actually enjoying it. And not only that, I’m taking a lot from the style that I can see works, and can help me with my own writing.

It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone with reading. I know. Especially when, reading time is precious time. Time that you want to spend reading something you know you will enjoy. I get that. I know if I had endless time I’d certainly read more widely.

However, when we box ourselves into a preferred genre we are narrowing our perspective. We are closing ourselves off to reading that might actually surprise us – that we might enjoy. And as a writer, it is even more important to broaden our perspective. We can learn so much.

If you ever hear an author asked the common questions ‘What’s you number one tip for aspiring novelists?’, you can almost guarantee their answer will be to read as much and as widely as possible. And I really do understand why.

So I’m grateful for having my mind broadened to new genres through the course and am going to focus hard this year to step out of my comfort zone and read more widely. And yes, even fantasy!


What’s your ‘go to’ genre for reading?
Have you discovered a particular genre that surprised you?