Use Reading to Refresh and Recharge Your Writing
Absorbing fiction or creative non-fiction has key benefits
In any given day, I’m writing a client blog post or related project, articles, or working on my next novel. I type out thousands of words while juggling family and other responsibilities.
Writing to satisfy clients and build an audience in the quest of earning a part-time or full-time income can be draining. It becomes a mental grind. I like structure and always have the goal of writing by about 8:30 a.m., but I’ve also tried to be reading a novel by 8 p.m. or shortly after.
After reading, my wife and I have been typically unwinding by watching old sitcoms on Hulu. We started during the pandemic by watching the old Andy Griffith Show and now we’ve been watching episodes of the original Bob Newhart show.
Reading a novel and then watching a sitcom gives me the opportunity to disengage from focusing on the minutiae of writing blog posts on topics like health or office furniture. It frees me from trying to twist my mind through plot and character developments and lets me learn through the work of others.
Now, there are times that I writing assignments may pile up or I’m racing against some deadline so I can publish. If you’re writing to survive by publishing to pay the bills then you can face long days. You may need to stay up late, but I know that I need an unwind mode.
As a rule, you can’t write, write, write with no end in sight.
You can make your own end for the day by sitting down to read. We give ourselves permission to no longer feel guilty about not writing and trying to produce something of quality and value.
I’m all in favor of taking breaks from writing by running, gardening or some other activity that gets me moving. Those are perfectly legitimate. But reading also lets me learn from other writers while I’m in a relaxed state.
I can look forward to the clock for reading mode and know that I’m not wasting my time or vegging out. I get into the world that another author has created.
Reading fiction or creative non-fiction also helps me take a break from writing business blogs or books for clients. It provides a different perspective that I don’t get from reading business news or the news of the day. That type of reading is often in my line of work so I also need a break from that style.
My background includes journalism and nonprofit public relations and marketing so I’ve usually been in the mix of activity. Although I studied short story fiction at the University of Pittsburgh, I always felt that reading fiction was a luxury. It wasn’t a waste of time, but there were more important things to do.
I don’t feel that way any longer.
In an article for the Harvard Business Review, The Case for Reading Fiction, the author, Christine Siefert, stated how “reading literary fiction helps people develop empathy, theory of mind, and critical thinking. When we read, we hone and strengthen several different cognitive muscles, so to speak, that are the root of the EQ” (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence).
As I began to read fiction in a structured way, I came upon works by other indie authors in my genre, primarily thriller. I could read and see how they chose to open their stories, develop characters and plot twists and create cliff-hangers to end the chapters.
I found that didn’t take away from the fun of reading because many times I was subconsciously learning.
Reading fiction isn’t an option any longer. It’s part of what fuels my creativity and sharpens my ability to write in any form and style.