In On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King writes:
“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true…Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
What are YOU reading right now? Me…I am currently rereading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It just gets better every time I read it.
But I need to do more than read excellent writing (Tolkien is THE BEST) if I want to improve my writing and my productivity. I also need to study and learn from other writers, good writers like Stephen King.
And, I need time to process what I read. I need quiet time away from the books and the computer, time to reflect and ruminate. Time to let my mind sift and sort through everything that I have been pumping into it.
I have not walked back on the farm in weeks. Busyness, heat, weeds, chiggers…so many reasons not to walk!
Today, I was sitting at my computer getting absolutely NOTHING accomplished – my brain gears simply would not shift out of neutral. “Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe I should just shut down the computer and go for a walk.”
The woods and fields were riotous with birdsong. Turtles plopped from their sunning logs into the murky green pond, creating a murmur of ever-widening circles in the plankton-rich water. The fresh air and sunshine fed my soul as if I were an oak tree.
And now, I am ready to write.
If I don’t have time to read, I don’t have the time – or the tools – to write.
But if I want to write, I need fresh air and sunshine, too.