Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stop Reading

Stop reading.

I’ve now heard this advice twice in the past week: once in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and once as a blog post at Read.Learn.Write., which also references Cameron’s ideas.

I think of reading as an apprenticeship: I read to learn how to write, in addition to reading for pleasure, and to help me to relax and fall asleep at night.

But some writers and artists are saying that creative types should stop reading so much. It detracts from their own craft. They read so much they fail to create.

According to Noelle Sterne, the author of the blog post, “To extend Cameron’s metaphor, too often we abandon our own kitchen and rush to eat at others’ restaurants. But what does this avoidance get us? Only intellectual bloating, a queasy feeling of wasted time, and the nausea of self-disgust. And worse: stuffing ourselves with all that reading keeps us from discovering our own feelings, thoughts, perceptions—in short, our “voice.”

Neither Cameron nor Sterne suggest artists should abandon reading permanently, just during periods of their own creation.

With piles of books literally all over my floor, shelves, and drawers, and more digital books waiting silently on my tablet, I feel like I can never stop reading or I won’t get to them all. Can I ever abandon reading? For a whole month? A week? A day?

For how long could you abandon reading?

1 comment:

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I can hardly get into the car without taking a book along - you know in case I have to wait somewhere or because hubby is driving and I am free to read.

But I also DO feel a hunger sometimes to just be. To soak up the scenery, engage with the husband or whoever I'm with. Those things feed me and my writing, too, I think

I'm not good at not reading but I think I need it some. Lately I've been working at it but even more I'm working at time away from the computer screen.

I get what these "Stop Reading" people are saying. But I'd have to work hard to get through one day.