One of the best things about books is that you learn new things. This is true both whether you are reading them or writing them. New places, new cultures, new mythology…oh, it is grand.
One of my favorite things about being a writer is that when I start a new project, it’s fully an excuse to go to the library and bring home an armload full of books and spend several hours on the internet (most possibly spent in Wikipedia). It gives you a lovely reason for when someone asks you why you have a book about alien parasites or alternate dimensions or ghosts or what have you. You’re not really crazy, you’re researching.
But Kit, you might say, why do you need to do research? Don’t you write science fiction and fantasy?
Ah, yes, the common misconception that it’s easier to do speculative fiction because you get to make everything up.
Here’s the thing. Everything is based off something else. And since modern scifi and fantasy now tend to be set closer to contemporary times – whether in location or spacetime – making something up is harder than ever. Fantasy tends to rely heavily on myth and religion, whether it’s a rework of the Arthurian legend or a story based very loosely on Polynesian gods. Science fiction has “science” right there in the name. Even if you manage to create worlds and civilizations that have nothing to do with anything else you’ve ever been exposed to, there’s still research to be done.
Just because something is made up doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense.
Besides, why wouldn’t you want to have an excuse to learn? New books and new experiences and new knowledge help more than just the creative process. It makes for good conversation at parties. You can impress your friends and families. And it makes sure you keep on thinking and imagining and creating. All of which are good things.
So do yourself a favor, Squiders. Pick a new subject, and go read a good book.