I was reading a blog post today about how reading can actually get in the way of your writing. At first I thought: that’s cray (crazy in 20 something’s speech). Then, as I continued to read, I realized the author was hitting home.
It took me a long time to like reading because I wanted to immediately skip from “Sam can run, Sam has fun!” to REAL books–that is books with chapters. But once it clicked, I was hooked. If I could read in the shower or while I drive, I would. Don’t say they make audiobooks for that, it’s not quite the same.
As I read the post and examined how much time I spend reading, which I convince myself is a better AND more creatively stimulating use of my time than watching tv, I realized I could be using this time to write or think about writing. It seems like when I’m in class or at work my fingers itch to work on whatever writing is in my head at the moment, but as soon as I get home all I want to do is curl up and read or watch a movie. Or spend an embarrassing amount of time on Pinterest. (Where is the Pinners Anonymous support group?? )
These things are all enjoyable and none of them are “wrong” but they’re all an escape of some sort. Don’t get me wrong, writing is an escape for me. I’ll write a paragraph and when I take a breath I have to reorient myself to my surroundings. But, it’s a more productive escape. I’m creating something rather than just escaping from the world that I should be observing and experiencing as a writer, even just as a human being.
Things like books, tv, and, for me especially, Pinterest show us all these things to do and make, these places to go, but we sit there and click “repin” instead of planning a trip, or doing that work out, or even just making those fancy cupcakes. Sitting at a computer pushing a button is not the same as standing on a beach in Greece looking out over the blue water and feeling the breeze. Trust me, I’ve done both. Pinning a picture of Santorini can never replicate or fully represent the smell of the sun on the stones and the way that peculiar shade of Mediterranean blue on the doors and roofs looks in the setting sun.
Even if you don’t write–or read for that matter–what I’m saying (to myself as well) is turn off the tv, step away from the computer, and put down your cell phone.
Go out and live.
If you can’t go to Greece just take a road trip. If you can’t create a Pinterest-perfect work of art, have fun trying and failing. You learn more from failure than you do from success.
So stop reading this. Get up from your computer. There’s a whole world out there just begging to be explored and experienced.