Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let's Choose Ignorance, M'kay?

This year, I have read more books than I have in the past three years (individually). I sit here trying to think what the difference is. My schedule has been far crazier than in previous years (I have been out of town for a collective 7 weeks), I am juggling several blogs, working more with Dad, I launched The Warren, and I'm teaching two different classes. So if my schedule hasn't changed for the easier, how is it that I'm racking up book after book on my Have Read list?

Quite simple: I shifted priorities.

People who say they "do not have time to read" don't mean that. We all have time to read. We all have time to do lots of things. There isn't a single man on earth who has more than 24 hours allotted to him. So when you say "I don't have time" what you really mean is, "I'm not making it a priority." Don't argue on this. Maybe you feel that you don't have time because you aren't the one in charge of your priorities. (i.e. your parents have you taking dance, theatre, and soccer twice a week, or you're in college and your professors have claimed every ounce of brain-matter in your body) But in these cases, we ought to say what we mean: "There are other things higher on the priorities list."

I used to say that about reading. There were other things higher on the priorities list: things like blogging so that I could keep connecting with readers and other writers; things like writing so I could legitimately keep up a writing blog. But after last year when I only remedied a scary, paltry book list by cramming in the last two or three months, I realized that the quality of my writing is directly related to the quantity of my reading. To state the case in perfect frankness: when I'm not reading, my writing suffers. It's that old problem of wearing out your brain in one channel; overusing your mind so that the activity wears a sore furrow in one place. Soon you'll find you're left with no inspiration, little wit, and small willingness or interest in moving along.

And I'm not talking about books that are related to writing or have something to do with the subject you are writing about. I'm talking about reading for reading's sake. I went to the library and picked up The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir, which is a deep look at Richard III's (alleged) murder of his nephews and how they figure it is probably true. I'm not writing (or planning to write) a book about the Wars of the Roses; it was simply an interesting book that I wanted to read. And I enjoyed it in its fullness and returned it on time to the library. (*smirk*) I remember Jenny saying something a long while ago about making time to read, even if it was one chapter before bed; I agree entirely. Bring a book into the kitchen while you make dinner. Bring one in the car on the way to your dance lessons or theatre practice. Read instead of planning another blog post or checking Facebook once more, or scouring Pinterest for that perfect face for one of your characters. None of you want to surrender yourselves to self-chosen ignorance. Imagine 'fessing up to that one: "I'd rather play Wii than read because my mind needs a break." Okay, so maybe you could use to be "brisked round and brisked about" but reading is a break for your mind because it uses a different part of your brain than writing does. Most often when we complain that our brains are tired, what we mean in actuality is that we've worn a sore furrow in that one corridor and it's complaining loudly.

Click out of your Word document. Close down the Facebook app or the Pinterest page. Shut the laptop completely (and who the heck wants a Kindle?) and take up one of your castaways. Crack the spine and crunch up a receipt for a bookmark, and remember the good old days when you "had time". Believe me, it's worth it.


Miss Dashwood said...

*claps enthusiastically* Aaaaaaand this post has just been nominated for Best of the Month on my blog. :D http://miss-dashwood.blogspot.com/p/id-like-to-share.html

Unknown said...

Wonderful post! I've been thinking about how I need to be reading more, you have just encouraged me to pursue that goal. :-)

Kirsten Fichter said...

AMEN!!! AMEN!!! AMEN!!! Couldn't have said it better myself.

You know, I'd have to say the same principles apply to writing. If you're not getting what you deem as enough writing done, you need to switch around your habits and make it a priority. I know that's something I need to work on. Even though I'm out of school, I'm working with my Dad, teaching my younger siblings, cleaning, etc. etc. and I've convinced myself that I really don't have time to write. I'm still reading, but I've neglected my poor characters for far too long.

Well, here's to the future! More books, more words... we *have* the time! ;)

Carmel Elizabeth said...

Ah, you've hit the nail on the head! I entirely too often find myself guilty of the "I don't have time" excuse. True, I do have an extensive dance schedule (due to my own motivation in that area) and as I'm still in high school, I've got a nice plate of Learning set before me each day. I choose to design blogs and I choose to blog regularly - so yes, I've got a full schedule. But I can make room for reading, and I should more often.

In fact, this week I made a point of finishing Dragonwitch and beginning on The Grand Sophy, and haven't been much behind on my schedule because of it. Which is proof right there. ;)

Rachel Heffington said...

Well I'm glad I'm not the only one who has had to reprioritize. ;) I am going through it all again with fitting in exercise which is the entire bane of my poor existence. :D

Joy said...

A perfect, perfect post! I don't have much else to say, Rachel dear <3.

Livia Rachelle said...

Oh, my I had someone say something so catty to me a couple years ago, and I think it was actually when I mentioned books I wanted to read, "I wish I had your kind of time." My only response for a few days was an overwhelming desire to slap (actually I still want to slap that person) or some other such pleasant feeling, and it wasn't until weeks later that I thought of the brilliant and orignal response of, "you do, 24 hours." (Btw, I have probably had less time this year than in my entire life, but I am pretty sure I have read the most or almost the most this year). Thank you so much for this post. It is really amazing how people, "don't have time and money" for things like reading, helping people at church (it seems like my parents are one of like 3 couples at church that actually serve and my dad travels and my mom is still homeschooling and carpooling to games three of her six kids), but still have time to shop, FB, eat out Pinterest etc. I know I am guilty on this head too, and it is easier for me to read than to actually do things like draw and sew and such.