Posted in Reading Books, Writing Stuff Down

A Balancing Act

I love to read (duh).  And I love to write (obvious).  But do you know what I hate to do?  Read and write at the same time.

I know it sounds silly.  How can one not read and write at the same time, when the two sort of go hand-in-hand?  Well, let me clarify. When I start reading a book, I don’t like to have any distractions.  I love the feeling of when I’m on a roll, going through a book every few days.  I feel like my mind has been expanded and enriched and all that other scientific study stuff.

I feel the same way when I’m writing whatever story I happen to be working on at that moment.  When I get on a roll with my writing, writing thirty pages a day, I feel awesome, like I actually accomplished something other than going to work and making dinner.

And here is where I run into trouble.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot do these two things I love at the same time.  I’m not talking about holding a pen in one hand and book in the other.  I’m saying that if I’m working on a story all night, I can’t pick up a book before I go to bed and transition into that world.  I end up looking little like this:

It doesn’t matter how good the book is, either.  If storylines and plots and dialogue are running through my head, I just can’t devote myself with someone else’s work.  I picked up the book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children from the library last week, thrilled that I had finally found it at a library, and read the first three chapters that night.  It was off to a great start, and I couldn’t wait to plow through it the next day.

Spooky!

And then I began writing a new story.  I started working on it on my lunch break at work, and then the words just flew out of my pen that night.  I wrote a ton of pages, and my story had taken over my brain.

So when I picked up Miss Peregrine later that night, I just couldn’t get into it.  It almost felt like I was cheating on my story.  I was afraid that if I started to read a completely different story, I would forget what my own was about.  I wouldn’t be able to think of clever dialogue while I was reading someone else’s dialogue.  So I put the book down…and haven’t picked it up since.

But there is one good thing in all this.  I’m writing like a crazy woman.  It would be really bad if I wasn’t reading OR writing and instead just sitting on the couch watching old episodes of Saved By the Bell.  And the great thing is that once I hit that big wall call Writer’s Block (don’t worry, it’ll happen), I know that I can turn to plenty of books for inspiration.

In fact, many books I’ve read have lead me back to stories I’ve started but never finished because they’ve inspired me in some ways.  And just in case that happens soon (even though I wrote another load of pages today), I picked up the following books from the library tonight:

Her book Delirium inspired me to go back to writing after a long drought, so I’m excited to get into this one.

I actually have the first one as an eBook, and got the second one tonight.  For some reason I always get inspired by dystopian teen novels, so I can’t wait to read these.

I’ve heard great things about this book, and the fact that the NY Times used words “dark”, “dangerous”, and “twisted”, I think it sounds like something that could inspire me.

So even though I’m fully invested in writing my story right now, I’m really going to try separate the two and finish Miss Peregrine even while I’m writing.  I know it’s possible to do.  How else do full-time authors read other people’s work?  For my fellow writers out there:  Any tips on how to accomplish this?

Because there’s nothing worse than a writer who doesn’t read.

Happy reading/writing (but not at the same time)!

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Author:

I have way too much information floating around in my head, which is why I write things down. I find that books, movies, music, and television are much more interesting than my local news.

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