Sometimes, when I feel like I need an extra jolt of inspiration in my storytelling, I resort to re-reading my favorite stories. Reading a good story does two things for me. First, there is the pleasure I get from the story itself. Second, it gives me an opportunity to think carefully about why the story is so good; what works about it and what goes over the top. The net result is that I generally find myself more eager to work on my own stories.
I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, and found this weekend that I needed a little break. I also needed a little of that inspiration. So I started re-reading my current favorite book, It by Stephen King. And, as I hoped, I find that I am not only enjoying the old story, the familiar characters and settings, but also find that eagerness to write a really excellent story growing, like battery recharging. Already I think it is having the desire effect. The writing I did last night was the best I’ve done in quite some time. Not in terms of quantity (I wrote nearly 900 words last night, which is, over the course of the last year, par), but definitely in terms of quality. Not only that, I am just in raptures over re-reading King’s novel again. I often go into re-reads with the worry that it won’t stand up. This is the fourth time I’ve read It and it gets better each time.
I think the excitement of reading a good book helps with the inspiration and eagerness for writing a good story, at least for me. I know some writers who can’t read fiction while they are writing fiction, and I can understand that. You’ve got to do what works for you. But I’ve never had that problem, and I’m glad, because it means that my enjoyment is spread out across the day, either reading a great story, or trying to write one.