I recently changed my bio to say “Writing that flows is thrilling. Writer’s block is not.” When the idea is there—when that seed is planted—watering that seed or idea and nourishing it gives me great joy. I love the exploration of words and phrases and sentences, fleshing out the idea, giving it backbone and extensions, playing until the concept is full and formed. But without that idea I have nothing.
Lately I’ve been reading a book of spiritual essays by David Ault, Senior Minister at the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta, called Where Regret Cannot Find Me. Each story is a work of art and a gift of humanity to humanity. David’s grace and humility are so touching, so inspiring, that I’m sorry when the stories end and, at the same time, so uplifted by his experiences and wisdom that I want to do better and be better. Whether he’s talking about fond memories of The Burger Joynt and a bag of BBQ chips or a mystical encounter with a shaman in Peru, he makes sure that I can relate because he touches on the universal truths within all of us.
What are you reading right now? Does it inspire you? Uplift you? Make you feel something you haven’t felt lately? Do you admire the author’s style of writing? What does he/she do that’s different? How is this author memorable? Have you told all your friends about him/her? Or were you disappointed? Is it someone you won’t read again? Were you editing the writing the whole time you were reading and wishing it was better? How would you improve it?
I didn’t like Gone with the Wind the first time I read it, and I only got as far as the first chapter. At thirteen I couldn’t relate to spoiled Scarlett and the South and the brewings of civil war. When I picked it up again several years later I was enthralled. It’s now one of my favorite books, and each time I read it I find something new I felt I didn’t know before. The complexity of the characters touches on my life and my experiences and I can feel their pain and desires and regrets.
Sometimes I read romance to remind myself of the beautiful hope that goes with falling in love and because I’m a sappy romantic. Sometimes I like a little thrill and adventure to escape from the daily routine. Sometimes a literary novel reels me in with its mesmerizing description.
What are your favorites? Why do you love them? What do they teach you?
Find those authors who inspire you to be better. Study their writing style, the words they use, the way they tell their stories. Use their stories as fuel for your own. Whatever your genre, whatever your pleasure, take advantage of the thousands of books at your fingertips and read for inspiration.