A Writer’s Hygiene – 1,000 Nights of Short Stories, Poetry, and Essays
Every day, for the next 1,000 days, read one short story, one poem, and one essay.
That’s just a small part of this amazing speech he gave in 2001. Spend some time watching and listening to it. You won’t be disappointed.
The whole idea is to fill the workshop of the mind with so many different doodads, gadgets, and raw material that you can’t help but be inspired to come up with syncretic ideas and news ways of looking at the same old things.
At 39 years old, this is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seriously looked at poetry. Talk about regrets. Maybe it’s because I’m starting with Robert Frost, but my God man, it’s just beautiful stuff and so rewarding to puzzle out.
I’m reading amazing short stories by Elmore Leonard, Robert Howard, Richard Matheson, as well as contemporary stories in every genre. For barely the price of a nice dinner, I picked up four giant anthologies containing classic mysteries, tales of horror, the works of Edgar Allen Poe, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
I’m reading long-form articles from National Geographic, Mother Jones, Reason, and Military History Quarterly. Once I’ve gone through the issues in my stock, I picked up a used copy of Francis Bacon’s essays to start on next.
It may be the magical combination of this hygiene program and trying to write a story every week, but I’ve never been so full of ideas. It’s not always easy to work them out into a cohesive narrative. I’m convinced this system has made doing so easier, though.
Ray’s suggestion may not be for everyone, but I can’t see that it hurts. Even if you start slow and do it every other day, you’re bound to have a wealth of material to consciously and subconsciously pull from.
Fill your cup, I say.