Want to write? Don’t starve your brain.

I mentioned in my last post that I had participated in an experiment along with S. C. Green. The idea was to avoid all media input for one week. The hope was, that once divorced from all of this external stuff, we would bloom with new stories, new ideas. I had some doubts about that, but figured it was worth trying.

I learned a lot about myself during that week. And I did make serious inroads on a longer short story, finishing the first draft shortly after the week was up, something that would not have happened if I had not participated in S.C.’s experiment.

But the story was something I had started writing before I deprived myself of books. I already knew my plot and characters, I just needed to discipline myself to push through the hard parts. After I finished it, I felt listless. Anxious. At sea. And I had no new ideas to work on.

I hadn’t gotten a single new idea the entire week of the experiment. Which, honestly, was what I had expected. I found I wasn’t enjoying my daily runs half so much as I normally did, without a story to worry at and dream about.

And then I did a stupid thing. I kind of don’t know why, except that I do stupid things sometimes. You could call it a signature move. Anyway, I continued to hold myself back from reading. I knew that I certainly wouldn’t write anything if I allowed myself the pleasure of reading a new book. And I really wanted to write. So I didn’t read, and I didn’t write. Instead, I remained restless and adrift.

Finally, wanting to escape myself as much as anything else, I caved and cracked open the first book of Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders series. I’d greatly enjoyed her Farseer Trilogy and was ready to plunge back into her world. I read the book, Ship of Magic, like I was starving.

Because I was.

Guess what happened the next day, as I went for my run? If you guessed, new story idea, you get a cookie. So I guess I must modify my Inspiration Equation thusly: (READING)(music + movement)= story ideas.

Writers are readers, first and foremost. That’s why we all started writing, is it not? Books? If you are not making time to read, both in your chosen writing genre and out of your genre, every day, you are starving your brain of the nutriments it needs to create. And starving your imagination is just another way of giving yourself writer’s block.

So, don’t be stupid like me. Read. Every day.