When searching for new topics and stories to write, you will often search for inspiration by reading material in the same subject or genre. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it keeps you busy reading instead of writing. Reading is so much easier than writing, isn’t it?
It can be difficult to get good inspiration from other writers because their writing style, topics, and background are different from yours. It’s your unique focus that makes your writing interesting, not the ways you’re the same as everyone else. How can you keep your uniqueness?
You already read your own writing when you revise your work. I know there are methods for writing in one draft, but even when you’re good at that, multiple draft revisions seems to be the default.
During revisions, you add, cut, and rewrite. Writing that made no sense in rough draft become great in some places and terrible in others as you add more material. The bad goes and the good gets revised further. That’s why even the most tenuous ideas should go in your idea file. As you revise your writing, new ideas appear, especially if you revise many times.
Adding may be the most important part of revision. If you have too much material, you may have another article. If you’re writing books, you can never have too much. It’s always good to have more material available to cut. Even better is having chapters to cut (and save elsewhere) since they may be the inspiration for another book.
Revising for Productivity
Revising whatever is next isn’t always the best plan. There are so many levels of writing you do. To maximize productivity, you can read each type early in the day and see what takes off. What are these levels?
– Article and short story idea files, rough drafts, and second drafts.
– Book outlines, plots, first drafts, and second drafts.
– Fiction and nonfiction versions of the above.
Why am I suggesting reading several writing types? To find your mindset. Are you left brain or right brain this morning? Is your imagination taking off or would you get further doing editorial work? If you already know the answer, you don’t need to experiment. Work on ideas and first drafts if you feel creative. Work on second drafts and nonfiction if you don’t.
When you review your own completed writing, the material is written in your style, on your topics, and with your background knowledge and education. Just as you get inspired with more ideas during revision, you can also get inspired when rereading your old articles and books.
The ideas that come from reading yourself can prompt new articles and books. You will have more to say about some ideas. You will also find gaps in the original information. And you’ll remember ideas you passed over because you were too busy writing.
There’s a limit to how far you can take rereading. How many times can you review your own writing and still find something new to say? Not forever, for sure. But, as long as you keep writing new material you will have more to review.
Don’t abandon your other sources of writing inspiration. But remember, you can get a lot of ideas just by reading yourself.
Article by Ivan Izo.