What I do while I write...
I read and read, and read.
Years ago, a writer friend of mine who wrote his memoir said that this was not a good strategy. He cited the anxiety of influence. When we are too caught up in our heroes, we can't produce. Therefore, when he was writing, he eschewed reading altogether.
When I write, I need my old friends more than ever. My thoughts bump against the masters' and take flight. Colette, Du Maurier, Trollope, Dickens, Poe, Murdoch, Christie, Sayers, Dinesen, Morrison...the list goes on.
Art provides more solace. Observe the woman reading by Ulisse Caputo. This lovely image depicts a woman privately ensconced with her book. Her expression is one of unalloyed pleasure and power. Isn't this the connection authors desire?