This past week I’ve been writing a lot more than usual. Sure, part of that is due to not taking five classes and only working part-time for now. Not my choice, but it does clean up some space for writing.
Time is money, but time is also productivity, and that doesn’t always mean cash.
And, aside from the extra time, a lot of that productivity is appearing in the form of reading. Reading has always been a heavy catalyst to productive writing. It’s not for nothing that authors’ advice to young writers always includes reading your eyes out of their sockets. Most writers love what they do because they love to get cozy with a book, but it’s never a fruitless reminder to be disciplined in making time for your favorite authors. Hey! Maybe authors just say that in hopes they’ll sell more books…how conspiratorial.
But they’re still basically right.
How can I be disciplined in making enough time to read and write both, you ask?
The first often leads to inspiration in the second. It’s in the books I read — and especially the ones I enjoy the most — where I find the highest doses of writing adrenaline. So, I’ve been writing a lot more than usual (not blogging as much as I should, sadly. But the story calls!), and I’m going to blame it partly on the reading I’ve been finding time for. Reading the right stuff this summer has gotten me stoked for writing.
For this reason, I’m going to add to the old authorial maxim: “Read everything you can get your hands on.”
…Actually, I won’t add to it. I’ll take issue with it…
Don’t read everything you can get your hands on!
Why? It’s a waste of time you really don’t have. Read only that which inspires you, or, at least, only that which you enjoy. Arguably, what you enjoy you are also inspired by, but I won’t quibble. I know this is hard, but don’t be afraid to close a book you don’t like. Don’t feel obligated to finish what you opened; if it’s poorly written it may only harm your writing energies, bog you down. We learn best from the people who are better than us.
Another practice I’ve taken up recently is to underline sentences or phrases I like. Regardless of the book I’m reading, if I like it (and if the book is mine) I’ll make note. If you recall my post a few months back on Earthsea, it was a post made up of quotes I loved from the book. I was just so excited about them. Not all books are that rich, but I frequently go back to books I’ve loved and reread my marks. That’s inspirational by itself.
Daniel Abraham’s Season series has been a particular inspiration to me this summer. Before starting each subsequent book, I returned to the one before it and read my underlined sections. It was like a “best of” rehash. Made me excited beyond all reason for the next book, and made me want to become a better author myself.
One more point I hope to be good, sensible wisdom. It may not be, but I’d advise making a point of reading outside of your chosen arena of writing. If you write fantasy, read non-fiction sometimes.
This takes us back to my old argument that fantasy should reflect our own world wisely and accurately. And learning about our own world not only keeps you sharp, but will add depth of thought and world to your fiction. If you write nonfiction, read fiction to develop a character-and-dialogue sense of writing that could add fathoms to your chosen journalism style.
So read lots. Just chose your reads carefully, and allow them to inspire you to new heights of writing brilliance. It may lead to getting more written even though you have less time.