Reading Day

It is safe to say that reading constitutes at least half of writing.  Not merely reading one’s own work, mind you (though that’s certainly important), but reading the work of others.  A writer must read, and do so constantly.  One must read other published works so as to keep the idea tank near full, one must read nonfiction to seek inspiration and conduct writing research, one must read articles on writing to hone one’s skills.  And no less important, one must read the work of one’s peers; fellow writers at one’s level of development.

Over the past six months, I’ve largely neglected my reading.  Perhaps due to my own case of writer’s block, perhaps owing to stress at work, I’ve spent the past few months bookmarking articles I intend to read, piling up a backlog of Writer’s Digest and National Geographic.  I haven’t cracked a new work of fiction.  And while others here on WordPress have read my work, liked it, commented on it, I have neglected to repay the favor.

Well, with my project at work on hiatus, my writing taking off again, and the college football season drawing to a close, I’ve run out of excuses.  Thus, this week I’ve instituted something I’ve been planning on for months now: Reading Day.

While the college football season generally leads to a shuffling of my weekly writing schedule (so as to leave Saturdays free), for most of the year I don’t really allow myself a day off from writing, per se.  Rather, I devote Sundays to the busywork aspect of writing: sending and answering emails on my kuesterwrites account, tweeting and replying to tweets, working on this site and organizing my notes, and of course checking in on my fellow writers to see what they’ve been up to.  While I might do a bit of writing on Sundays, normally I limit myself to editing and proofreading what I’ve recently written, and as such I manage to afford myself a day off without technically taking a day off.  I manage to be productive without any creative exertion.

While it’s good to devote one day a week to writing-related tasks that do not involve actual writing, I still tend not to do a significant amount of reading, at least not with regards to the work of others.  Even prior to the start of the college football season this year, my growing backlog of unread articles and magazines had begun to bother me, the way most find any nagging task left uncompleted troubling.  So, to that end, I’ve decided henceforth to devote Sundays not only to my own editing and assorted busywork, but also to reading articles I’ve saved over the previous week, and browsing the other WordPress pages I follow.

While this week’s post serves primarily as an introduction, starting next week my Reading Day post will feature several articles or WordPress pieces I’ve read during the day, along with links and my own thoughts on the subject.  In doing so, I hope to broaden my own reach, as well as help draw attention to other WordPress writers who deserve at least as much attention from others as they’ve afforded me.

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5 Comments

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  1. Ah, you’ve suffered from writer’s block? That’s actually something I’m currently highly intrigued about – the emotional/mental obstacles of writing. Would you mind describing your block in a few words? How does it feel like, what thoughts/emotions you have, and especially what do you do to overcome it. I’d be happy for just a glimpse into your mind, so to speak! But no obligation. 🙂

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    • I actually wrote a blog post about writer’s block a while back. To me, writer’s block feels like swimming against a riptide. I can see where I want to go, but as I try to reach it I’m held back, so I keep flailing until I exhaust myself. My average writing output is 1000-2000 words a day when I’m not working on a novel. At the height of writing Wide Horizon, I was averaging around 4000-5000 words a day. When I’m suffering from writer’s block, my average drops to around 400-500 words a day, if that. I can sit at the computer for hours and manage a paragraph or two.

      Everyone has their own tricks and tactics for surmounting it, but in the end, the only surefire remedy is to just sit down and write. I usually try to spur my creativity by switching projects; it can help to set one’s mind to something else, completely change the rules. But in the end, you just have to write through it. Sometimes it takes a while (Maya Angelou was notoriously masochistic, saying she would just sit and keep writing as long as it took to power through it). But it does work.

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      • I see. I’m like you in that I don’t have a block that completely prevents me from writing. And like you, I usually prefer to write through it. Can you analyse where the block comes from, the reason for it?

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      • It varies, though generally I find one of two things tend to be the cause. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of creative exhaustion: after completing a work, or a major series of chapters in a novel, I just feel drained, as though I simply can’t write anything else (I call it a “creative hangover). When that happens, usually switching to something else, ideally something already started but unfinished, does the trick.

        Other times, though…it’s hard to explain. It’s as though I know exactly what I want to write, can see it clearly in my head, but I just can’t figure out how to express it. As if all of the ideas just mash together in my head, like a clogged drain.

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      • Interesting! “Creative hangover” is a fitting term. 🙂 One I can understand very well, too.

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