There is a prompt I saw on Poets and Writers which suggests that a writer type up a story from an admired author, carry it with them, and read it over the course of a week. It feels so freeing and easy to type up something that was already written, to feel as if they are almost your own words as you are typing them, and to really enjoy and savor the lines when you read it again and again.
I noticed how much I skim and scan while I read, hardly reading the same book, poem, or story twice. This exercise brings relief and allows me to soak in the words as if in a bath, admire them like a fascinating museum painting or a symphony, not rushing away so quickly. With each reading I gain a new perspective; I observe something I didn't see before in my chosen piece of writing.
When I begin to write again, I don't do so by merely copying what I read as if I don't trust myself to write something from my own self. Reading others' work carefully and with appreciation for each detail and image sets the mood for my own honest writing that comes from the truest part of me.