... is reading.
I'm not being funny. Had a bad day? Stressed out of your mind? Read to relax. Don't want to deal with stuff? Read to escape. Nothing to do and bored? Read. Thunderstorm? Read. Can't sleep? Read.
Writers' Block? Read, read, read, read!
This last is very important. The psychology behind this simple fact eludes me, but it always seems that when my writing falters, when nothing I type out fits, or is right, or even makes sense, if I can't seem to get my imagination to pick up it's share of the work, I pick up a book, a really, really good book, and all of a sudden, my imagination explodes. This is especially the case if the writer(s) I'm reading have original stuff (thank-you again Steven Erikson for your T'lan Imass and your Jaghut).
Let's face it, too many fantasy novels out there are about Orcs and Elves. There are WAY too many dragon tales, and very few of them are any good at all (Melanie Rawn is one exception). If your influences on fantasy are just those afore mentioned things, then the pool from which your imagination creates new shapes is very limited indeed. There is only so much you can pull from it.
That goes for reading outside your genre too. If you write fantasy, you'd probably help yourself more if you picked up the occasional crime novel, or horror, or even fluffy chick-lit. You'd do yourself even more of a favour if you read some serious academic stuff.
For example, I have two shelves dedicated completely to the field of Celtic Studies. I have one shelf exclusively for Anthropology and Archaeology, and yet another one for academic treatises on folklore and myth. These are perhaps the most important books for my imagination. Instead of reading secondary source, I go right to the primary source. For example, if you want to learn what Cicero said, you'd do better to read Cicero rather that rely on some first year uni student's paper about what he said.
Every myth has something to contribute to my imagination. Every shred of folklore adds to the pool from where my characters come. Every single ethnology provides a detailed analysis for a completely new race.
I shall simply finish up by quoting Cicero:
"A home without books is a body without soul."
Oh, and I've won something... again (please understand my excitement... I never win anything... well, normally anyway)! I'm soooo happy. I've won another book. This time from a goodreads.com give-away (first reads). The title is Servant of a Dark God. I can't wait to get it and read it. I promise I will post a review of it as soon as I've finished with it. Lordy, I'm happy!
Oh, and before I forget -
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA! Love you!
Good day, everyone!