READING: A CREATIVITY BLOCKER?


Whoa! Before you all jump up and beat me for wearing dinosaur pyjamas, hear me out.

Anyone who understands what it takes to improve their writing gets what a big role reading plays in it all … right? In order to grow as a writer, the craft has to be studied—the practice as well as the theory … right?

I love books. It was my love of books that inspired me to write.

But … I’m damned if I can write whilst immersing myself in a really good book.

I’ll explain why.

As a writer, if you want me to read your stuff, you have to capture my heart and my soul, as well as my interest. I want stories in which I 100% connect with the character/s. I want to be racing back to the book at every available opportunity simply to turn another page and find out what happens next. I want the characters to consume my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep at night. I want them in my dreams. I want a resonation so strong the story is the first topic in my head upon waking.

I want to live, eat, breathe, sleep the characters—because if I’m halfway through your book, the chances are I’ve fallen in love with them, and that kind of connection with a story is an absolute high. I defy any lover of fiction to disagree.

All of THAT right there is my problem.

Because of the depth of investment I make in a book I love, they have a tendency to take over my mind … then where’s the room for my own creative juices to flow?

Now … this may sound like utter b******t to you … but not to me. And I’ll explain why.

I had a dip last year, where I could barely create a piece of flash, let alone a novel. I’m currently in one of those kind of dips now.

Said writing dips frustrate the HECK OUTTA ME!

Enough so that I decided I must get to the bottom of why they happen (after all, they can’t be writer’s block when I don’t believe in the damn infliction, right?).

It can’t be that I have an inability to multitask—heck, sometimes (translate: often) I have multiple WiP’s on the go, and even flitter between them all throughout the day to add words/paragraphs/chapters to each, without a hitch to voice, plot, characters. So, I knew there had to be another reason and went in search of … (dum dum duuuuum!) the common factor).

Did I spot a pattern?

Oh, you betcha.

A few weeks ago, a pile of books arrived in the post. Two authors/two different series’/5 books in one, 6 in the other. I picked one up to read … and, damn and blast it, I haven’t stopped 2 ½ weeks later. I’m now halfway through book 5 in the one series, because I can’t get enough of the characters.

Last year, when my major dip occurred, I seem to recall being temporarily unavailable to all of the ‘real’ people in my life due to works I disappeared into never to be seen again until I turned the last page.

So … see? I evidently can’t give writing my own work 100% of my focus when I stick my head in the covers of someone else’s world. I just can’t. Nuh-uh! Looks like I’ll have to consider … um … not reading (say what?) whenever I have a project that needs ploughing through.

Bummer!

What about you? Do get lost so far into another’s work that you struggle to find your way out to concentrate on your own stuff? Or are you simply waaaaaaaaaaaay more focused than me?

If any of you all happen to be on Twitter and Facebook it would be great to hook up.

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15 thoughts on “READING: A CREATIVITY BLOCKER?

  1. I’m actually the opposite. For the longest time I was just a reader. 🙂 These days, I consider myself a reader first and a writer second.

    When I first started writing, I tried to reward myself with a chance to read when I made significant writing progress. That stifled my creativity flow, and I started resenting writing. Next thing I knew, I wasn’t writing (because I hadn’t earned the right), I wasn’t reading, and was just plain cranky. 🙂

    I’ve done away with that system Not only do a read for pleasure, but also to scope out what works and doesn’t work for me in books. A really great book can be motivational for me.

    1. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Books are 100% motivational, and inspiring … but I just don’t think I’m able to do both at the same time.
      Like you used to do, I think they’re going to have to act as a reward system. Reach my goal in my writing, and then take time out to read a couple books 🙂

  2. I have to mix and match. Have to. One fuels the other. I get to a lull (i.e. my muse goes on vacation) and I read a chapter or two while walking on the treadmill. My muse must sense that I have given up on her/him and returns, often with a vengeance until I use his/her up again and have to say ‘bye bye’. 🙂 LOL So I think I’m just the opposite. I don’t read … I can’t write. I don’t write … I can’t read. It’s a vicious cycle no matter what.

  3. When I read a book, nothing else gets done. I’ve been writing for the past two years so I haven’t done much reading. Maybe it’s time to do some reading again.

  4. I actually find that reading sparks my own creativity. I read a little bit every day, maybe a chapter or two, and it seems to “reset” my mind. Sure, I have to go and do something else like laundry or dishes to give me time to switch from reader to writer, but eventually I get there.

    Though I do have writing lulls that occur in a pattern each month, but that’s a topic best discussed in a private forum. 😉

  5. Not a freak, Julie. I have the same problem! I get far too invested in other writers’ characters, that I sometimes abandon my own. I’m a bad pen-mom…

  6. Yes. I’m only reading short story anthologies and history books for the rest of the year for precisely this reason. I mean, if that tells you anything.

  7. When I can’t write, I read to recharge. Sometimes the books inspire me, whether for the borderline writing or the overall genre. It’s like mood music to me. If a book sweeps me away, I let it because I go for weeks without reading a book and it’s something I don’t care to do.

    1. Ah, well, you see, I rarely go a day without reading, and I rarely go a day without writing. Maybe I’ll need to start switching up my days. Hmmmm 🙂

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