excerpts cross-posted in my personal journal
I'm about to enter Week 4 again, and I am experiencing that same resistance just knowing I am not supposed to read for an entire week. I learned how to read at a very early age, and I have comforted myself to sleep at night for most of my life with a book.
Not reading feels like punishment to me. As a writer, not reading feels like it's stunting my growth. I read for ideas--an interesting article sometimes works its way into an editorial or short story I've written. I read for inspiration--falling in love again with the beauty of a perfectly crafted stream of words in a master storyteller's novel is the fastest way to get me jumping back into the latest story I'm writing.
I read to learn where a story's strengths and weaknesses are, and in turn, discover strengths and weaknesses in my own writing. Oh no, what dreck--I can surely do better!
At the same time, I recognize that reading is often a crutch for me. At times, I swallow myself in an amazing story instead of challenging myself to attempt to work on my own amazing world of characters and plot.
I read to ignore the loneliness I feel finding myself alone on yet another long night--instead of reaching out to my old friends or stepping out of my comfort zone to go out and make new ones.
I read to drown out the steady beat in my brain that tells me to create, to fight the limits of my music ability and just tease the keys of the piano or noodle around on the guitar.
I read to fight the voices that tell me to get out of my routine, to buck up against the inertia that keeps me in a bad relationship or repair the good ones gone sour or hold myself accountable when the going gets tough.
Yes, reading is my drug of choice. And the thought of going through the withdrawal for an entire week makes me want to pull out my hair. Anyone have ideas for fun and stimulating things to do when I don't have my head stuck in a book?
Well, Tori says that when she goes into composing mode she doesn't listen to the music of other artists. You can become contaminated or influenced by the writers you read, and you don't want to rewrite what's already been written. Of course you can never escape the influence of other artists, but taking a break might help you find creative influences elsewhere. I know Tori uses art and books for her musical inspiration. Perhaps you might try writing about something that's inspired you in a nonverbal way, whether it be art, or classical music, or life. A picture is worth a thousand words they say, so perhaps you could choose a photograph or painting that really sticks in your mind and write about it. Or maybe you could try reaching out to the world beyond books for your inspiration? Exchanging ideas with other people is sometimes the best way to think of things in ways you've never considered.
Since I now knit, this exercise would not scare me as much anymore.
It's like fasting or doing a detox if you've done one before. You will learn so many intricacies about your relationship to reading !
I love baking.
Also... is there a pool around you ? You could go swimming or look at art at the local art museum ...