Over the past twelve months, my writing has diminished, and I wasn’t sure why.
When I moved last year it threw all my habits into a tailspin. I started working from home, which at first I thought would really increase the amount of time I spent writing. But over the months my writing time became less and less. I tried very hard to at least maintain my habit of reading my Bible every morning but even that decreased.
Working from my home no longer required me to get up two hours prior to my start time. When I commuted to my job I had to get up, use the toilet, shower, shave, decide on my attire for the day, get dressed, eat breakfast, bring in the newspaper, and some days I had to shovel snow and scrape ice off my car.
Now if I want to start work at 7:00 AM I can lay in bed until 6:50 AM, which leaves me enough time to use the toilet and get a cup of coffee and voila, I’m at work.
I would try to read a chapter out of the Bible while doing my brief morning ritual, but my eyesight isn’t what it use to be. When I first wake up and turn on the lights, the text can be difficult to read. Sometimes it was too difficult so I just gave up and went about my day, never making the time to sit down and read.
So I wasn’t reading much of anything.
I’m old fashioned or maybe just old, and I still like to feel a book in my hands. I like the fact that there aren’t any pop up ads, I can concentrate on what I am reading.
The post ideas were drying up and so was my writing and I couldn’t figure out why.
Did I have “writer’s block”? Did I just finally tire of writing?
I didn’t think so because on the few occasions each month when I did take the time to write, it felt good and I missed it.
Then one night as I lay in bed watching the same reruns of the same shows that I had seen who knows how many times, it hit me. Now would be a good time to read. I’m really not that tired. I was in bed because I was physically tired and mentally there was just nothing stimulating going on. I would be lying in bed watching the same stuff until I bored myself to sleep.
We only have one small light on the small nightstand beside the bed. It gives a nice low light for the bedroom but not near enough for reading. I could turn on the overhead light but my wife, who is sleeping, wouldn’t appreciate it and it still wouldn’t be proper light for reading. Plus I would have to get up out of bed and turn it off when I was done reading for the night.
I could mount a light on the wall behind the bed, but that would still spill over to where my wife is sleeping and I’d have to drill a bunch of holes in the wall, run wires, and try to hide them.
I looked up portable reading lights and found one that I thought would work. It was a little clip on LED light and it had some good reviews. I ordered it and it arrived in a few days.
It works great.
I’m reading most every night. Best of all I am writing on a regular basis. I am stimulated again.
Through all of this I realized why I stopped writing. I stopped writing because I had stopped reading. When I thought about it, it made perfect sense.
I realized just as I do as a musician, I must do as a writer.
As a musician you listen to music, as much as possible. You listen to music you like and have heard a thousand times but still want to hear it again and again. You search out new music, different types and styles from all over the place. You store it up in your head where it all mixes together and what comes out is your own concoction made from the ingredients of others.
If I were to stop listening to music, my playing and musical creativity would suffer. I would stagnate.
This is what I was doing with my writing, I had stagnated.
I wanted to write but I wasn’t fueling the writing engine. I wasn’t giving it the proper mixture of gas and air, both are needed for combustion.
After only one week of reading on a regular basis I got back to writing.
I wrote three pieces in four days. Before I started reading again I only wrote three pieces in a month.
Reading truly is fundamental. Reading is fundamental to the creative process.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.