Have you ever been in a funk with your writing? Maybe you don’t know where to take your story next. The sentences aren’t clicking into place, and you’re stuck.
Take a break and try this: Read.
I was hooked on reading at a young age, which led to my desire to write.
Reading a good book helps you remember why you wanted to write in the first place. As I read, I often think of solutions to problems in my own writing. I’m inspired by techniques other writers use. Read more
If you read my last post, you learned about a writing assignment from Ray Bradbury.
As part of his reading advice, Bradbury recommended authors who inspired him and shaped his writing. I’m noting some below in case you’d like to add them to your reading list.
Bradbury advises reading essays on a variety of topics, including biology, anthropology, and zoology. In particular, he recommends Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, and Loren Eiseley. Bradbury read Eiseley’s The Fire Apes (.pdf) and later wrote him a fan letter.
Also at the top of Bradbury’s list: John Collier – author of Fancies and Goodnights, a short story collection that won the Edgar Award and the International Fantasy Award in 1952. Bradbury described Collier as one of greatest writers of this century, who wrote brilliant short stories that deeply affected Bradbury when he was 22 years old and learning to write. Read more
Renowned author Ray Bradbury has an assignment for writers who want to improve their craft.
Read one short story, one poem, and one essay every night for 1,000 nights.
At the end of 1,000 nights, your head will be full of ideas and metaphors along with your own experiences and observations of the people in your life. His aim is for us to make new metaphors out of all of these ideas and images that are bouncing around in our heads. In other words, stuff your head with literature. Read more
You’ve probably heard it before. To write well, you must read. Reading excellent literature will inspire you (even if the style or genre is different than what you write). It’s part of the magic of writing. Somehow, something you read sparks a connection in your subconscious.
Reading critically helps you analyze other writers’ techniques and see how you might apply them in your own unique way. If you recognize meaning and nuance in other writing, you’ll be more aware of how to create those moments in your own.
These tips will help you make the most of your “reading practice.”
1. Adopt an analytical mindset. Go into your reading session with a different frame of mind than when you sit down to read for pleasure — not that this type of reading isn’t pleasurable. I find reading even more rewarding when I make a new connection or experience a flash of discovery.