I’ve been a slow reader for the last couple of years. If I remember rightly, in 2009, the year I finished my MA, I read 91 books. That’s my all-time record. I’ve hit 50 a few times, but that year I read books like it was my job, because it was my job.
My MA is in Creative and Life Writing, and for me, reading and writing are co-dependent. I’ve never been one of those writers who has to put reading on hold when they’re working on a project. Reading helps me to write. There are other things that help me write quickly – green tea, walks, anger, the sudden resurfacing of ordinarily-buried memories. But I have to keep reading too. I can’t go too long without it. I have to fill myself up with words to compensate for those I’m putting out. Writing requires reading, and reading induces writing.
Only, there’s this thing called blogging…Oh, blogging! How I love you! It’s kind of like creative writing, except with almost-instant gratification thanks to comments and retweets. It’s very easy to get carried away with it. To find yourself making schedules and other plans and ignoring the little voice that says ‘Can we PLEASE work on the novel now?’.
So I get up in the morning and do my morning pages and look at my blog schedule and go ‘Oh yes, I must write that before Friday’ and I draft whatever it is and then I go to work. I come home and finish it and post it and then I’m too tired to do anything else so I play Flash games on the internet until it’s time to go to bed. Or if I don’t have work, I fit in some procrastination and some more Flash games instead.
And I don’t read any books, and I don’t write any books.
After deleting a load of old feeds from my RSS reader a few weeks ago I reached Peak Internet. This doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a powerful state to be in. Basically, I’m bored of the internet. I can hardly bear the sight of it anymore. I don’t want to surf Wikipedia or read depressing articles on The Guardian or play Flash games for longer than ten minutes at a time. This has freed up my mind to do some problem-solving.
I need to read so I can write. I prefer not to read under the light of my yellow lightbulb, which is right above my bed so I can’t lie on my back to read without it blinding me. Therefore, I’ve started reading in the afternoons, after I’ve done some writing.
IT’S AMAZING. I still manage to blog, but now I’m forced to be more organised, and to procrastinate less. Excellent.
When do you prefer to read? Mornings? Evenings? Afternoons? Do you get most of your reading done during your journey to work, or do you read more at home in the evenings? I read a lot more during the week than at weekends, when I have more social activities competing for my attention. How about you?
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