After some time away, its only fitting this  #MotivationMonday piece come from our good friends at Poets and Writers . Inspiration struck while reading their Inspiration issue.

How do you find good writing?

You’ve heard me say before that writers read. There’s no getting around it. But it’s equally as important to read quality writing. Have you heard of you are what you eat? It’s true for writing — you are what you read. So chose carefully.

But how to chose? Well, that is a bit of a challenge because there are so many sources — bestseller lists, award winners, award nominees, magazine recommendations, librarian and bookstore recommendations, friend recommendations. etc.  Does it mean that you need to read all of them.

No. But it does mean that you should pay attention.

I’ve been lucky that for the past two years, I’ve had an advisor guiding me through creating a reading list. Now that I’m out of that realm, I have to create one for myself.

This is how I plan to do it.

1) I’m going to play it safe for a couple of books. I going to read books from some of my favorites but here’s the twist — it will something from their cannon that is different from what I’ve read. So while Isabel Allende is a terrific prose writer, I’m going to read one of her memoirs.

2.) I’ll going to eye books from other writers I’ve come across in graduate school but wished I had more time with their work. Aimee Bender came to mind. I read The Girl with the Flammable Skirt and I wanted to spend more time with her stories but couldn’t because of the quick pace of my program. I’m going to be reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake soon.

3.) I’m also going to fuel my interests. I’m a big mystery and noir buff. So Raymond Chandler will make it to my list as well as some of the noir anthologies such as Havana Noir.

4.) I’m going to deliberately go out of my comfort zone. I’m going to read some non-fiction. Right now I’m reading The Best American Travel Writing of 2011.

5.) I’m going to read genre fiction. I know! Gasp! But here’s the thing, really good genre fiction are fantastic reads because they know how to develop an appealing plot. I want to learn that so I’ll read a couple.

6.) Talking about learning from books, that’s essentially what we’re doing. So I’m also going to chose books that I can learn from. I’ll read samples on online and determine what can be learned from them the book before I engage. I’m also reading ( non-spoiler) reviews to know more about them.

7.) And, since I have dozens of books that I have purchased that I didn’t get to, those are going on my list as well.

8.) Don’t forget the classics!

The point of a reading list is that it’s a journey. With each book you read on your list, you’ll find another to read. And then another. And another. That’s a good thing. It’s better to have too much to read then nothing at all.

These books are teacher and each one have a lesson for you, the writer. Look for it as you read and apply it to your writing. I promise you’ll be wonderfully surprised!

Write On!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad