Reading to Remove Roadblocks

When I hit a wall while trying to write something meaningful, I have a couple of strategies to get my mind off roadblocks and be productive. One thing I do is clear up my writing corner. By that I mean I gather up all my handwritten notes (quotes, vocabulary, references, ideas, death threats) written on quarter-sheet size scraps. I have typed sheets for each of my projects, but they often have scribbles on them that need to be organized. So there's that. Sometimes I clean up my email accounts, which can take a while.

The other thing I do is just start reading what and how other writers have written. I had begun Crime and Punishment, then several more current novels came to my attention. Thankfully.

These recently-indulged and more contemporary novels are as follows: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (brilliant first novel - envy); Varina by Charles Frazier (who wrote Cold Mountain), Fatherland by Robert Harris, and Picked Off by Linda Lovely. These novels are from varying genres, but all delightful. Reading fine writing is instructive in that it shows me that it can be done. 

Eleanor Oliphant.jpg

Now, a heartfelt endorsement of Gail Honeyman's first novel. From my perspective, there are rare instances when a writer creates a fresh character in literature, one who has never really existed before, thus generating a living character out of paper and ink. Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn speaks for itself, a huge leap forward in literature. And there is Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, and Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. All originals.

Now you might add, on my recommendation, Eleanor Oliphant, Gail Honeyman's brilliant, profoundly damaged, and immensely strong protagonist. See for yourself. That's all.

Finally, if you're a writer and you're stuck, stop and go read something. Don't beat yourself up. Stephen King says to read more and write more if you are serious about writing. See you next time!