I read a lot about other writers. Specifically, I’m fascinated with people’s different creative processes. How do people ideate? How do they develop their ideas? What are the rituals or sources of inspiration that they use to get the train going?
While there are obviously many different schools of thought on the matter, the approach that seems to work best for me so far is a combination of John Scalzi’s and Lev Grossman’s.
From the Scalzi school, I’ve adopted a very commercial, capitalist approach: First and foremost– what subject is probabilistically most likely to sell the greatest number of books? What is the “Product Market Fit?” Notably, when Scalzi wrote Old Man’s War, he perused the shelves at his local bookshop and identified the genre which appeared to move the most units. Military Sci-Fi was the answer. As the story goes, Scalzi aspired to be a professional novelist (he was already an accomplished newspaper columnist by that point) and really didn’t possess an allegiance to any particular genre. More than anything else, he was motivated by how to make the most money possible. Additionally, then he honestly assessed his own abilities and that intersection of the Venn Diagram was thus the birth of Old Man’s War.
I really enjoy following Scalzi’s blog and writings because this guy is one fecund sob. Truly, Scalzi’s production is genuinely legendary. Sure, the quality might not be Lev Grossman-level. But Grossman only puts out a book once every half-decade or so. Magician’s Land was published in 2014, already nearly six years ago. As Scalzi has remarked previously in multiple places, writing to him is a cold-hard vocational trade. It’s a feature, not a bug, that he deliberately aims for being as mass-commercial-mainstream as possible. He enjoys raking in the cash! And possesses not an iota of romanticism about it. And I think that’s profoundly inspiring. I too, like Scalzi, hope I can one day make a living from writing fiction. So I pretty much hang on his every word anytime he says something about the craft/business.
My other huge inspiration is Lev Grossman. Man, this guy can really write. I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet Mr. Grossman at various book-signings that he’d hosted in the past. And what I admire most about him is just the sheer beauty of Grossman’s writing. Sure, it doesn’t always go somewhere, plot-wise, but the absolute gorgeous prose just can’t be denied. I once read an Amazon review somewhere that compared Grossman’s writing to “cul-de-sacs” and that analogy is entirely accurate. Again, it doesn’t always go anywhere, but the words fit together so enchantingly that that alone is worth the admission price.