Thursday, March 05, 2009

How Much Should A Writer Read?

As a writer I know I need to read as well as write. But how much?

What I read is partly determined by the genre I write in (SF), but the amount I read is up to me.

Given that I have a family and that writing doesn't yet pay the bills, I don't have as much time to read as professional writer.

My weekly target is 1 BE: 1 Book Equivalent. This can be made up of magazines, short stories and full length books and novels. A whole magazine counts as 25% of a book and a short story 10-30%, depending on the length of the story. Long novels, which I define as 600 or more pages of small writing (take a bow Alastair Reynolds), count as 2 BEs. Websites, emails and blogs don't count.

It also allows me to have several books on the go at once. Currently, I am reading Prospect and First Edition magazines, though I don't expect to finish either of them this week. I also have four books (Absolution Gap, Fooled By Randomness, Shoot the Damn Dog & Call the Midwife) and a short story collection (Ambrose Bierce) on the go.

It's a useful, if rough, guide and if I can maintain a reading level of 1BE per week, I should at least be reading a decent amount per year...even if it is late at night when everyone's gone to bed and I'm trying to stay awake.

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