Reading To Write.

Creativity comes from a weird place. I spend a lot of timing writing the first lines to things, or brief ideas that never really materialize into anything substantial. That's been the biggest blocker in writing any fiction in the last few years, and it's been over a decade since I finished any fiction at all. I have a few furtive attempts at novels, and paragraphs here and there.

I still think of myself as a writer. I'm not a professional any more, it's been almost six months since I got paid anything to write online. (If you know anyone looking for tech writers or reviewers, send them my way.) I have been trying to zero in on what drives me to write. I think to a certain extent my focus on writing articles and tutorials derives from the fact I read a lot of news articles and blog posts every day.

What I am not reading is a lot of books, and especially not a lot of fiction. It takes me a lot longer to get through books than it used to, as I devote a lot of my leisure time to reading things on the Internet. I'm not making a judgement call here. I don't think that one form of reading is any worse than another, I just think that it informs how I think about writing.

I do think that you should work to be informed of current events, something I wasn't the best about doing when I read all the time. Being a news junkie probably stresses you out about the world, though I will admit I temper that with a fair amount of tech fluff and Cracked lists. On the other hand, I feel like I've over corrected, and am not getting through as many books as I could.

As an American I'm drowning in ways to spend my meager amount of free time. Some of that time gets devoted to this blog, and other writing projects. I'm trying to use the habit building method again, using a new app I'll have a review for next week. I'm going to read a few classics to try and get into the habit of reading a little bit of a book everyday, and cutting back on the number of articles I read.

I'm leaving out my podcast listening habits, as well as video games and TV shows. We have an abundance of culture that goes unrivaled in history. The Internet and the democratization of production means that all of us are downing in content. It takes a lot to just be culturally literate, and I do wonder where you draw the line. All of those silly think pieces about information diets and what not are just silly, but so is my concept of cultural literacy.

A lot of blame has been put on reading on phones and tablets for people reading less, that the distractions caused by having other things to do is too great. I want to challenge myself to read more, but I think that we need to leave room for the possibility that you're just doing what you want to. That the rules and constrains that are put on the idea of "good" uses of your time, and "bad" uses of your time are just stupid. It's really just a matter of taste.

I'm very guilty of judging other poeple's taste, but there is a fair argument to be made that we should at least let ourselves off the hook. Read more if you want to, and read the things that you want to. My concern is that the lack of fiction is why I'm missing the tools to actually finish my stories. I'm thinking of concepts but missing the shapes and tools to actually build them into something. I can put the sentences together, but I need the muscles to find plots again.

Mike M

Mike M

I have written various kind of reviews for years. I currently write for Make Use Of. I used to write for Digital Entertainment News, Macgasm, and the Examiner. My day job is as an IT monkey. Follow me on Twitter.