artist's way reflections: week 4

September 26, 2008

For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own. (pg. 87)

I hate this quote.

I agree with it, but I hate it.

It is me. I have known this to be true, but how could I argue with benefits of reading?

The reading deprivation this week has been challenging. And beautiful. I have come to see how not reading can be good for me. And bad for me.

Reading is where I tend to go when I’m not ready to engage. It is a movement away from having to accomplish or create. It feels meaningful, and it is, but sometimes it is meaningful avoidance.

But, I know it also fuel. Ideas spark when I read. My notes and to-do list grow even as flip through a book.

So, as I sit at the end of a week of starving my poor inner reader (save for a few pages each night at bedtime), I know it has been good. I have spent more time producing and creating this week. But it has also left me empty, and I have missed engaging with the ideas and stories of others. The question for me, whenever I reach for a book, is to ask why it is that I want to read in that moment. And then I can decide if it is the best choice for that time, for that place.

A few other ideas that have been present for me out of the reading this week:

  • People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined. (pg. 82)
  • Each of us in a unique, creative individual. But we often blur that uniqueness with sugar, alcohol, drugs, overwork, underplay, bad relations, toxic sex, underexercise, over-TV, undersleep — many and varied forms of junk food for the soul. (pg 85)
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