Never trust a writer who doesn't read.
We've all heard it before, and we've probably said it before. But the truth is somewhere in the soft squishy gray area we usually try to avoid thinking about. If you've got a day job, a girl friend, spouse, a kid or two, you are struggling to find time to write, which means you might be struggling to find time to read.
I've had the same painful, nagging cough for nearly a month. The doctor can't do anything for me but give some new allergy medications. I'll take them and hope Spring passes quickly. My cat has cancer. Prior to a couple weeks ago this meant cat shit was just everywhere all the time. The new meds he's on means I don't have to keep washing the sheets we put over the couch like Gramma used to do, and you can cuddle him without having to change your clothes. The kid is in her school's talent show - which means I'm saddled with practically begging her to practice, because at seven, I think she's a little too young to learn a lesson via fucking up in front of all of her friends at school. She's got Girl Scouts and homework and spelling tests. The husband has cool stuff going on at work but that means long days, and me making the commute to join him for the pomp and circumstance. And... I think I also have a life. It's hard to remember without looking at my date book, but I seem to recall having shit to do every single day, myself.
I'm not saying this to complain (well, I'm complaining about the cough and the scratches on my arms from giving the cat his medicine), because the truth is things are going pretty well. If I weren't also working on a novel, things would be pretty great. I'd be able to guiltlessly spend my free time relaxing with a book or binging Justified because my brain was tried of managing all my responsibilities and it would be fine. But I am writing a novel, and I am brain fried all the time, and I don't mind being honest about the part of being a writer that's actually work.
When your brain just wants to switch off, but you have a goal with your revisions (and revisions are never as fun or exciting as first drafts for me) being a writer sucks. The writing doesn't - it never does for me. But forcing the time, forcing another cup of coffee down, trying new gimmicks and "life hacks" to keep your focus strong and the distractions to a minimum - it sucks. I've been taking a break from hardcore revisions lately because I'm sick and I have a lot going on, and frankly I deserve it. But I've always found the easiest way to get excited about writing again is reading, so instead of giving in to the urge to watch TV or even just go to bed early, I've been getting through my long TBR. Whether it's new books I've been meaning to read, essay collections I've wanted to get to for months, or books like Breakfast of Champions that I managed to get through life without experiencing.
It's fun, and it's productive. Because I need to remember that reading is part of the job. And I need to reset my brain. And I need to get excited enough about books and stories that hacking all over my keyboard doesn't discourage me.
get well soon
You nailed it. If you don't have time to both read and write, read. Just writing will burn you out.
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