Sunday, May 1, 2016

Can you derive inspiration from reading?

Recently fellow author Ilene Schneider had an interesting entry here on the blog, “Do MysteryWriters Read Mysteries?”

To expand on that a bit, do any of you read anything specifically for inspiration?

I don’t mean “How To Lose 10 pounds in Half an Hour” type of inspiration. I’m referring to actual creative inspiration?

Unfortunately, I don’t think you can just say “I need inspiration” and pick up a book. You may end up deriving some bit of inspiration but if you’re a mystery writer, I very much doubt you can say “My 11th chapter doesn’t flow well. Let me re-read The Big Sleep and see if that helps.”

Singer Rosanne Cash is a longtime favorite of mine. Her music has constantly evolved and has remained enjoyable over the years. Likewise for her non-music writing. Her autobiography is among the better musician autobiographies you’ll find.

She is fairly active on social media and is often found on Twitter. She recently tweeted that she, at that specific moment, had just finished listening to Dylan, Mozart and Coltrane – or some cmparable top shelf musical brilliance.

Out of curiosity, I tweeted and asked her, “Can hearing music that great psyche you out as a songwriter? Discourage you? Or inspire you as a writer?”

She replied to me pretty quickly, saying, “All of the above. Mostly inspire.”

And when you think about it, “mostly inspire” may be about the best we can hope for.

When you get right down to it, though, shouldn’t most inspiration come from individual perspiration—i.e., individual effort and work? You put in some time writing and, whaddya know, work gets done.

Or maybe reading for inspiration is like taking chicken soup for a cold. It may not help but it won’t hurt.
Joe Nowlan is the author of "Media Blitz" and "The Zyratron Affair."


jrlindermuth said...

Inspiration can come from many sources. Reading another author can be among those sources. How they tackle a particular problem may answer a problem you're having, not by copying their solution but by sparking an idea that works for you.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Terrific post. Reading other authors have not only given me inspiration about what I ought to do or do more of--but also what not to do.

Amy Bennett said...

I love to read other mystery authors and challenge myself to be just as good, but different!

Joe Nowlan said...

Thanks, Marilyn. Glad you liked it. And I agree with your comment about how sometimes reading certain books can show you what NOT to do. Good point.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

I agree that inspiration comes from many sources. I recently started writing a chapter book for children seven and up. The story line came from an adventure my son and his daughter had at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. But it has blossomed to a completely different story. We may never know where life takes us, we just need to be open to the journey. Beryl