Let that sink for a moment. A good writer is a good reader.
Friend and fellow Route 66 lover Dr. Nick Gerlich said that to me recently during a conversation about my disdain for my writing as of late and it hit home. The statement, not my disdain for my writing.
I used to devour books. One or two a week in my late teens and into my early 20s. As I got older, my reading habits waned significantly.
In more recent years, my reading habits have shifted to being primarily online and usually include only blogs and news articles. Reading actual books, however, has been something I continue to struggle with almost daily.
And yet, I wonder why I struggle with my writing. One reason, as I’m starting to figure out, is that I do not do enough reading offline.
There are at least a dozen copies of The New Yorker lying around the apartment waiting to be read. Additionally, there are at least 15 books on my bookshelf begging for my attention and one that is half read that I’m slowly working on.
Along with a few other things swirling around in that noggin of mine, I know that I need to make a much more concerted effort to close the laptop for a change, hide the phone and iPad and curl up with a book and coffee.
The media that is social, also known as Facebook, will still be there when I put the book down after 30 or so minutes of reading. The world, okay fine, social media will not implode if I leave it to do something that challenges the mind somehow.
If it has not imploded during the hour and 15 minutes that I am in class or the eight-ish hours I am sleeping then it certainly won’t do so because I walked away for a bit to read that thing with two covers and pages in the middle.
Because you know, books are fucking awesome. And I just need to remove my head from my own ass and realize that loafing on the laptop every damn day is a creativity sucker. It’s a brain drain. It’s…well, shit. I forgot the last one. See? Books. I need them. Lots of them.
One thing I’ve also started to do is figure out how I can turn my home office into a reading sanctuary. I have two small bookshelves but I’m convinced I need two tall bookshelves to fill up with a crap ton of books. This has the added bonus of clearing up the clusterfuck of clutter on the tall bookshelf next to my writing desk in the office. I call that a win.
Side note: I really like that term “clusterfuck of clutter.” Funny. At least to me it is.
The good news in all of this is that I am reading more often and doing so away from laptop. I am using the iPad (hello, Kindle!) but also working on actual books. One of those books is Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman. It’s a hilarious collection of essays he has written about pop culture.
book snobs discerning readers on Goodreads consider it total crap but hey, I like it.
Hopefully by removing my head from my ass the writing will start to improve. I’m sure it will. Coffee helps too but that’s only one small part of the equation. Coffee provides the energy while reading a range of material sparks inspiration and creativity.
Who can argue with that combination? Add in a comfy chair and a warm blanket on a chilly morning and it’s a recipe for perfection.
What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts in the comments.