I was inspired to write this post by my co-blogger Imani, who wrote this awesome post last Wednesday about how reading good writing inspires her.
I agree. Before I sit down to write anything that might possibly be fiction I always read a couple of pages of a Joan Didion essay. I don’t know why, but it’s just become a thing I do. I get nervous if I don’t do it, as if I messed up some sort of cosmic force. It inspires me, calms me, puts me in my writing mindset.
Sometimes I get sick of good writers. There are just so many of them, and they’re all successful and wonderful and thoughtful and always pushing it in my face. And sometimes instead of getting inspired I just get sad and got eat ice cream.
So I think another tactic to get out of a writing rut is to read something terrible. Something dripping with adverbs and clichés, with a predictable storyline and a lifeless protagonist.
Read something like that, something just terrible, so that afterwards you can think, at least I’m not that bad. Read too much terrible writing, though, and you’ll begin to think you don’t need to improve at all. I don’t recommend this.
I think it’s like a ladder you need to get to the top of, just like most business analogies. Inspiring writers are at the top and can help you up, but if you’re a little too far down, let the writers below you give you a lift. I’m sure they won’t mind.