Last week I posted the best (and probably only) advice I'd give to aspiring authors: Write the book you want to read. And I hinted--no, said straight out--that there was a down side to that practice, and that I'd tell you about that this week.
So I will. It's not exactly what you'd call a huge impediment, but it's something I've noticed about myself and wonder whether other writers have the same issue.
Writing what you want to read is undeniably the best way to write the book you should. This is your chance to fill a gap only you know exists. It's an opportunity to fly in the face of current, transient trends and write something you'll like even after you have to read it for the 17th time for copy editors before it inevitably goes out with some small errors in it anyway.
But here's the thing: Once you've written the book you want to read, you might notice that nobody else is writing that. And that leads to a realization that most books you see on store shelves aren't what you want to read.
This certainly might not apply to you, but I've found that I read less since I started writing books.
Of course, that phenomenon is partly due to the fact that writing books takes up a lot of time and so I have fewer minutes to read other people's work in an average day. It also has something to do with the idea that I spend much of my day reading words, mostly my own, and by the time I have a break--usually at night--I want to do pretty much anything else.
But there is that small component in a person like me, who as a child would spend an hour trying to pick out exactly the right comic book and then decide not to buy one at all, that says, "Nobody's going to hit your sweet spot exactly. Watch a movie instead."
Granted, it's not a huge thing. I read nonfiction instead of crime fiction for the most part and am trying (again) to get myself into Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit, about Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. I did recently read The Daily Show (The Book) and got through it very quickly. It only reinforced my belief that the world would be a better place if Jon Stewart decided to comment on a regular basis again.
I don't want to overstate this. It's not that I hate all other authors' work because that's not remotely true. I still stop and read some favorite authors as soon as their latest is released and I will try things on audiobook because I like to have that going in the car on longer drives. But I do find that focusing on my writing (the book I want to read) is narrowing my choices of other books I might want to read. I don't know if other authors have this problem, and it hasn't stopped me from reading. But it has slowed me down some.
Pitchers and catchers report in 28 days and it can't happen soon enough.