Reading as research

Recently, I’ve been feeling a compelling itch to head in a different direction: writing in a genre that is completely new for me. Exciting, yes! But when it came time to sit down and actually flesh out some ideas on paper, I was getting nothing concrete, just swirling, hard-to-grasp thoughts. I tried to ignore that itch and stick with the tried-and-true, but I couldn’t let it go. The push just kept coming back: write it. Go there. Try it. Now.

And now I’m in the uniquely beautiful world of creative research: reading! I now have six books from that genre stacked on my nightstand. I’m a third of the way through the first. And the ideas are churning—I already have two solid book ideas in the queue. Last night I dreamed a third. A fourth hit me while driving this morning.

Reading can be the best kind of research a writer can do. And not just reading in our regular genre—we all need to take a chance on new things intentionally. It makes our writing, and our soul, deeper and more versatile. I’m known to go from reading fantasy to mystery to sci-fi to romance in the same season.

It will be interesting to see whether I can pull off a full-length book project in a new genre, but I’m excited about trying. And in the meantime, it’s fun reading something fresh and different.