Which stories, novels, or non-fiction always jump-start your writing?
July 10, 2016 3:53 AM   Subscribe

Seeking examples or lists of writing that have inspired writers to write. Not "I read Orlando and wanted to be a writer," but novels, stories, or non-fiction that, when read, inspire one immediately to write, either on a one-time or a repeated basis. I write regularly; I'd like to have a shelf by my desk that I dip into more or less randomly before writing to prime the pump. While I love many books or stories, I rarely remember the ones that make me want to write.
posted by cupcakeninja to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Whisper of the Heart. (After posting this I realized you did not say movies, sorry!)
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 4:02 AM on July 10, 2016

Response by poster: Same purpose, just a different format, so thanks!
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:36 AM on July 10, 2016

Best answer: Not mine, but Joe Hill had trouble writing for a while and found solace in Elmore Leonard's The Big Bounce:

Between Heart-Shaped Box and Horns he wrote three different books he couldn’t finish. He completely forgot anything he ever knew about writing a good story. It took two years to claw it back.

What he did was this: He rented a house away from his family home, and rode to it every morning on his motorcycle. The only things in the house were a desk, a chair, his laptop, and a 1960s Elmore Leonard crime novel called The Big Bounce.

“I would start my day by copying out two pages of The Big Bounce. I’d copy sentence after sentence, trying to get the rhythms back. How does good writing sound? What does good dialogue sound like, how does a story move? I would do about two pages of it and the last couple of sentences would be my own. I was writing The Big Bounce but I was writing my version of The Big Bounce. Then I would change documents and start writing Horns.”

posted by bluecore at 5:14 AM on July 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

The White Album by Joan Didion. And anything by Raymond Carver.
posted by gt2 at 6:34 AM on July 10, 2016

My go-to answer is The Great Gatsby which is, honestly, a masterpiece of 20th century American writing. For something different, White Noise by Don DiLillo, is a masterpiece in its own way. Fitzgerald made me ache to tell a story, DeLillo showed me it could be absurd and still be meaningful.
posted by Ecgtheow at 9:29 AM on July 10, 2016

"Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard. So lovely, so moving, her words flowing like creek water over sun-warmed rocks.
posted by Lynsey at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2016

The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan. Simple, evocative, sometimes funny poems. They always inspire me. They remind me that I experience the world uniquely and that my perspective is worth filtering through words.
posted by sweetjane at 9:08 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, all. Sounds like I've got a good batch of stuff to try out.
posted by cupcakeninja at 3:15 AM on July 11, 2016

A School for Witches by Dylan Thomas. Actually any Dylan Thomas but especially that one. The words, those words.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:38 PM on July 11, 2016

Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson.
posted by staggering termagant at 4:38 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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