I like the expression that a good writer is a good reader. Moreover, I’d say that only a person who reads a lot (much, much more than writes) can become a writer worth reading—sorry for the tautology. Of course, I mean reading classical and modern literature, essays by famous (and, what is more important, smart) columnists, and not just news articles and internet memes.
Reading is a panacea, a cure for writer’s block—depending, though, on how you read. If you compare yourself to the author, you may feel either superior if you consider yourself to be a more skilled writer, or inferior if you don’t. Both are wrong, though. But, if you see reading as a way to boost your own creativity, then you are on the right track.
The Internet is, in terms of getting inspired, a great invention of humanity and a triumph of science. When typing in something like “short stories about loneliness,” you are guaranteed to be presented with tons of links, leading to opuses (good, mediocre, or awfully bad) dedicated to this condition. By clicking through the links, we can get some creative ideas floating through our heads again.
Simply gaining access to a number of ideas on the same topic you are working on gives you a speed-up. I am not talking about plagiarism, but about taking a look at things from another perspective. Sometimes it works paradoxically: you read about loneliness (let’s stick to this example), and suddenly gain an understanding that the writing piece you are working on should be about communication and extroversion. What I am trying to say is that the trick with browsing for similar topics can turn your own topic upside down, but at the same time liquidate your writer’s block.
There can be nothing new in literature; people have been creating literature, so to say, for thousands years, and all the possible topics for writing in every genre has already been attempted. Your task is to say what has already been said, but in a different way, rethink ideas previously expressed by other authors, and contribute to them if you can. So, there is nothing wrong in gaining inspiration through reading other authors, unless you steal from them.
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