Writers read. Lots, possibly too much.That’s a given.
Sometimes we read crap. As writers, I think we’re tolerant. We can often find some merit in a book, even if it’s the interesting use of a metaphor on page 21. But not all the time. One of the hazards of cracking open the pages of a book is that we’ll never regain the time invested in ploughing through it if it happens to be a stinker.
I was going to say it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but that’s not true. Reading poor writing may feel like that.
I’m going to suggest a procrastination-busting idea.
Start off by recalling the last poorly written book you endured. And for the sake of the exercise, this needs to be fiction published as a physical book by a company. Indie’s ok, but not self pubbed.
If the story you’re thinking of aroused strong passions, such as disgust, it’s not what I want. I’ll argue that if it was able to stir anything, it involved a reasonable standard of writing. If you shrieked at the description of the torture of small puppies, (and stuffed the book through a meat grinder, before burning it and dancing on the ashes), then the author got to you. No author can ask for more. And it's not the response I'm seeking.
I’m referring to writing that fails to keep your interest. When you read a few lines and find your eye sliding down, off the page. The sort of book that you only persist with in the belief that something’s going to happen. Eventually. And you give up when it becomes patently obvious it won’t.
Why am I asking you to torture yourself and recall something so mediocre that its only merit was it was a great cure for insomnia? Dont waste the experience! Use it.
Here’s what I’m suggesting.
Stand the book up somewhere prominent in your work-area. (Or a photocopy of the cover if it’s a library book)
Repeat the following: the author had the guts to persist with this nonsense. The author kept going until it was finished. The author had enough faith to not abandon it. An editor loved it enough to believe it was worth taking a risk on and..... publishing. (You remember publishing? That wonderful form of validation that’s been your dream since you were an embryo?)
If that clown can do it, so can I.
Because nothing gets published without a tonne of effort being put into it. Editors and agents receive a gazillion submissions every millisecond. A work that makes it to the bookshelves has been nurtured and loved and fed and massaged. Hours of patience were invested in it. You’ll never know how many times the author came close to abandoning it, but the evidence is there: it was never abandoned.
When you find the call of twitter/Facebook/ blogs/games/snack when you’re not hungry/tv distracting you when you want to write... stop.
Look at Crappy Book.
And repeat the above.
Great writing is inspirational. Pathetic writing might be depressing, but it has its uses.
So excuse me, I’ll wade through Chapter 15 of my WIP again, and see what I can change. If it ever gets published, I'd hate its ony use in life to motivate others in that way....