Reading Is Just As Important As Writing

photo(25)When I finish a manuscript, I usually indulge in at least two solid weeks of non-stop reading. And since I’m a speed-reader, that adds up to LOTS of books. I don’t write. I don’t plot. Okay, I binge watch TV, too, to catch up on everything I missed while under deadline. But mostly I steep myself in books.

It is delightful. It is restorative. I miss reading so much, now that all my free evening hours are spent with my hands on the keyboard. That is the hidden peril of having a dayjob and a full-time writing career that nobody ever mentions. Reading for fun gets shoved to the bottom of the priority list.

But when I turned in my latest manuscript in the middle of December, I didn’t take a break. Due to some idiotic procrastination over the summer, I ran right up to the deadline this time, which meant I turned around and started writing my next book immediately. There’s no time for a break, not with a looming deadline in February. I thought, no problem. The book I turned in was a big, 100k word emotionally charged (for me) start to a trilogy. Whereas the manuscript I just began is fluffier than cotton candy, and short (for me) at only 45k. I didn’t need a break, because these two works were polar opposites. The change would be my break.

Boy, was I wrong. I’d forgotten something very basic: all writers began as enthusiastic readers. Which means we have to refill the well. Yes, I was productive and started churning out pages. But I was also miserable. The only saving grace? The 3 days I got off over the holidays, which became my shortened reading binge. Was it enough? No. But it is going to have to last me until February 25. And then watch out – I may squeeze in three whole weeks of binge-reading. I only hope some of you learn from my mistake. Don’t ever short change yourself on the joy that got you into writing in the first place!


Reading Is Just As Important As Writing — 5 Comments

  1. I’ve gotten myself into a cycle of beginning the next novel as soon as I finish the previous one. I did it to myself, but I’m regretting packing my schedule so tightly. In the future I want to program that in – a one- to two-week vacation, just to refill the well and buffer between books. Reading is part of that, though I try to read at least an hour every day (sad because I used to read FAR more than that). More, I think I need time to *not* write!

  2. So true, Christi! It’s no coincidence that during the period I’d stopped reading fiction (being completely focused on non-fiction reading for work and study), I’d also stopped writing it. Reading rejuvenates my creativity and inspires me.

  3. I also miss not reading for fun as much as I’d like to. I try to make it up by listening to audio books when I’m at the gym. It’s my reward for working out. But I guess I’ll get a chance to do some serious reading later this month because I signed up to judge the Ritas. That should give me the reading fix I need!

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