Reading Goals, Anyone?
I have a confession to make: I’m not a reader. Let me clarify: I used to be a reader. But between the day job, struggling to get words, and overwhelming stress, I lost my love of it somewhere. Every time I thought about picking up a book, I just turned away. Then I took a class called Write Better Faster by Becca Syme in an attempt to break through my writer’s block. There I learned about my top 5 Strengths (Clifton Strengths testing). Lo and behold—all of them had to do with INPUT. Basically, my brain runs off of learning things. I have a craving for knowledge and am rejuvenated by the learning process. Except I’d stopped that process in its tracks by not reading much at all. The occasional non-fiction book or magazine was the only exception. No wonder my brain has basically stopped working! After taking Becca’s class, I started making an effort to read more, but it was haphazard. I would start fiction books, but not be able to finish them, no matter how interesting they were. I had better luck with non-fiction, which I could let sit for a few days, then come back to them and eventually finish. I’m not entirely sure why this was so hard, but I have a few suspicions.
- The issues going on in my brain related to the writer’s block made it extremely difficult to focus. What little “focus power” I had went to my day job and writing tasks, so there wasn’t much left for something I viewed as less important: the reading (boy, did I have that backwards).
- There is an idea I’ve been dedicated to for years: refilling the well. But until this very stressful time, I didn’t put it into practice with as much dedication as I should have. Then again, I didn’t know that part of what I needed to fill that well was knowledge! We often think of refilling our wells, or “self-care”, as things like taking baths and having our nails done. But our strengths give us certain needs that, when fulfilled, renew our energy and our enthusiasm far faster than anything else could. I’ve experienced this first hand!
The Joy of Reading
I’m a lifelong reader. My first love was romance books and, though I read many subgenres, they all have that happily ever after in common. I love them so much that I wanted to write my own. Twelve years later, I write my own romances...and I don’t read nearly as much. This was brought home to me over the last few weeks as I’ve been judging entries to Romance Writers of America’s RITA contest. It’s rare that I take enough time off to read a whole book. I usually only do it between projects, or during revisions, so that I don’t adopt the other author’s voice or characteristics as my own. The good thing about this is I have to read these books by the judging deadline—so its a great excuse to give myself permission to read. I’m enjoying the chance to do this without the guilt of these words floating through my mind...you should be working. Reading reminds me why I started writing in the first place. And the joy of losing myself in a fictional world without all the work of having to create it. :) Takeaway: Give yourself permission to do something you enjoy! How many books do you read in a week? Dani