So I took an extended break from writing for nearly 3 months. It wasn’t on purpose but I became busy and occupied creatively with a game I’m designing. Over the recent holidays however I found myself taking a break from game design. I dove headfirst into my shelf full of unread novels. I read one, and as soon as I finished I picked up the next. The first was a spy novel in the Daniel Silva series, the second was a favourite of mine, Pillars of the Earth. As I began Pillars I quickly became full of inspiration and new ideas. I had forgotten the feeling of creating and exploring a story. Rereading an old favourite helped me a great deal to think about my writing and story structure and the more minute details of the story.
I would not have guessed this to be the case, but looking back now it makes total sense. Reading a book for the first time is like watching a movie or playing a game or even listening to a song for the first time. It’s difficult to analyze something critically on a first play through or read through, or at least it is for me. I am most often totally distracted by the story (unless it isn’t a good movie or good book). I find it easy to become immersed in the world of the story and forget about plot holes or discrepancies or other issues. But on multiple viewings or readings those wholes appear.
This is when a good story is obvious, on a second or third go you appreciate the story all the more when it’s good, the wholes may be small but forgivable or maybe there aren’t any.
I noticed this especially when reading through Pillars for a second time, I could pay more attention to the quality of the story telling and writing because I knew where it was going. This is why I felt so inspired, I saw errors in my own writing or how my own story was faultering or missing something which inspired me all the more to go back to writing.
Now I have written a few thousand words and the flow is back. So maybe if you’re in a lull try taking a little break and reading a good story, it may be more helpful than you think.
PS: I know a lot of writers say its important to read almost as much as write, I never felt this was that important but now I see. But any old reading isn’t necessarily the best, reading quality works is definitely important and now I really understand why.