Reading as Play
The past several months my muse has been sputtering. Due to rewrites, edits, and proofs—and several other items that constitute both my writing and personal life—I didn’t get a solid start on my Manti temple book until school let out.
Try writing with the kids home all day.
Seriously, I could have gotten a lot more done than I have, even with my sweet little people needing attention. I even organized our days so I’d have some writing time each week. But even after I got off the (literally) stupid medication that made it hard to think, I’d sit down and wonder what scene I was supposed to write next—and then question each one I had already written. I felt like I was forcing each word of the story.
Worse, I was treading water rather than producing much of anything. Every so often I’d get a scene down that I was happy with, then think, “Yes! I’m on a roll now!” only to run into another sputter and stop the next day.
It wasn’t quite writer’s block—I was producing a bit on some level—but it was darn close.
Fortunately, I think I stumbled upon the reason and the cure this weekend: I had lost the joy of reading. Sound odd? It did to me, too.
See, I’m one of those people who believes that to be a good writer, you must read. This should be a good thing.
But with the hyper-controlling brain of mine, I turned reading into one more chore on my to do list.
Read today? Check.
I’d find myself reading because I “needed” to. I’d open a book just to get through a few more pages so I could move on to the next one I “needed” to read. When I finished one, I’d mark it off on the trusty list I’ve kept for years of what I’ve read each year, and feel like I had accomplished something.
Then this last weekend, I took a book that (of course) I felt I needed to read to keep up on my market, and decided to (holy cow) throw caution to the wind and read for hours on end.
It’s sad for me to admit that I don’t remember the last time I did that. I’ve been fitting reading into the cracks of my life for months now. I made sure I found time for reading (because, well, good writers read)—but often (and I’m dead serious here) it would be while brushing my teeth or while eating my breakfast. You know, those snippets of time that would otherwise be wasted if I weren’t multi-tasking. ALL. THE. TIME.
I finished that book and put it down, feeling like my children look after they get to play at the park. My mind felt alive with new energy, words, images.
Yesterday I produced about twice as many words on my work in progress as I have in any single day for months.
Coincidence? I don't think so.
Note to self: Remember to play with books. Reading is not a job.