I'm reading a bad book* and loving it.
Oh, it's not a boring book. I don't have any patience with boring books. Capture my imagination in the first couple of pages or I'm outta here. Unless it's a really bad book.
Every once in a while I stumble across a romance novel that is so poorly written, so breathtakingly awful that I drop everything to pore over every page. But if you're thinking my enjoyment involves gloating because I'm a better author than this poor slob, you're wrong.
I believe bad books can be quite instructive to new writers (and I consider myself one of those because I have completed only five manuscripts and made two sales since I started writing 4-1/2 years ago). When a book is not merely lackluster but excruciatingly awful, you can get a very clear idea of elements that don't work and why they don't work. If you're like me, good books are inspiring but not always educational because rather than analyzing the author's craft, you're sucked into a fascinating story or dazzled by her cleverly worded phrases. But in a bad book, every fault stands out and the lessons are clear: Don't do it this way.
In the book I'm reading now, the author is so in love with her lame one-liners that she keeps repeating them. You know when she thinks she's written something cute because she'll repeat the same line five or six times before the chapter is over. And most of the jokes are pretty much groaners to begin with. This writer may be a USA Today bestselling author, but this particular book is just awful, and I'm learning a lot. For one thing, I've just made a mental note never to repeat a "cute phrase" the way she does.
If your writing has hit a snag, maybe you need to take a breather and find yourself a really good bad book to read.
*No, I'm not going to tell you what book it is because we all have differing opinions on what constitutes a really bad book. Just use your imagination.