Next time you want to give up reading a particular book because 1. it bores you, 2. you can’t make sense out of it, or 3. it makes you bang your head on the wall, keep reading. You can analyze it and learn from it as a writer.
Maybe. Or it still might be a huge waste of your time. But isn’t learning from it a far nobler idea than tossing it from a moving car?
To analyze a lousy book and other noble and inspiring ideas came from keynote speaker Lev Raphael at the Rochester Writers Conference. If you’ve never heard of Lev, he’s authored twenty-four (no, wait, make that 25!) books in nearly a dozen different genres, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages. I admit I’d never heard of him before, which is one of the best things about attending writers conferences: you discover other writers. Besides having an inspiring life story as a child of Holocaust survivors that brought him to where he is today, Lev had so much to share with us. I adore generous people.
Lev says “Every time you put a set of words together, you change the world.” Sometimes as writers, we worry that what we’re writing has been done before. Tell yourself it’s never been done by you. It’s true that everyone knows what a hat is. Say “Look, I made a hat where there never was a hat.”
Lev also said that “writer’s block” is a unnecessarily negative way of saying what’s very basic and ordinary: you’re stuck. It happens all the time. Why make it into something you now have to unblock? That very notion can become debilitating. In one of his HuffPost essays, Writer’s Block is Bunk, he advises Leave the writing alone and don’t obsess about it.
You’re stuck? Don’t panic. Give the problem to your subconscious to figure out. Work on something else or don’t do any writing at all. Focus outward: the gym, a movie, dinner with your spouse, drinks with some buddies, walking your dog, home repairs, a car trip, gardening, working on your tan, cooking, going out, reading a new book by your favorite author — anything that will absorb you completely and make you feel good.
There’s a whole industry devoted to writer’s block, so doesn’t that prove there is such an affliction? Lev says no. Fortunately for us, Lev has added his book to the writer self-help industry: Writers Block is Bunk. What’s different about his book? It can be downloaded for $1 (that’s ONE DOLLAR) from Amazon. I feel as if I’ve been given a gift. It’s now on my Kindle.
Lev said to read a lot (even the books that bore you to tears), and also to be open enough to read books outside your genre. With that in mind, I bought his new suspense novel, Assault with a Deadly Lie.