Why is it that we ignore so much of the advice given to us?
Time and time again people told me that reading was going to make me a better writer and while I believed them, I never changed anything about myself to maximize its impact on me. I read without purpose, energy, goals… I was very lazy about it.
I read like a recluse when I was younger, which seems to be the case for most people, because I had very little else to be doing. Ma and Pa fed me, paid my bills, and did my laundry. Grade school came easy to me and I was capable of reading for class and reading for myself at the same time. It was a great time… Then I went to private school and then college and then I started working.
Each one was more demanding than the last, not to mention my social life completely changed over time as well. I went from scheduled play dates to hanging out almost constantly with my friends, to drinking, to dating, to balancing friends from different areas of my life. My responsibilities increased and by the time I recovered from it all, I realized I had been reading and writing very little. I was pretty sad.
Once I found balance again, for the first time in years, I decided I wanted to write seriously. Which meant re-calibrating everything I had just figured out to fit it in. Reading started to feel like a waste of time. (Judge away, but it happened.) Why bury my nose in a book when I could be honing my craft, picking sentences apart, and re-learning a bunch of tricks?
And then, it came back to me, the advice that people had been throwing at me for years that I had pleasantly dodged. Reading books is a part of writing. Just like in grade school, they need to be paired together. It was so embarrassing to think that I had tried to separate them and make one “work” and the other “fun”, when really they’re both. I made a change immediately. I stopped feeling guilty for the time I spent reading and researching and learning. In the end, the time spent away from my pages keeps me from going insane.
So, in celebration of ridding myself of ALL book-guilt, I’ve pledged to read 50 books this year. A huge growth over last year’s goal (25) and I’m excited to read all kinds of work. You can follow my progress on Goodreads (and even sign up yourself!) I haven’t read 50 books in a year since I was 13 years old reading American Girl stories, but I’m up for the challenge. You can’t grow without pushing all your limits. Good luck to my eyeballs this year!