I've been thinking about all the ways we writers can strengthen our commitment to the work. So I've compiled a list of 12 things to do that support the writing life. Look forward to these in installments.
READ, READ, READ!
Read every day—it’ll strengthen your writing. Fit it in first thing in the morning, before going to bed at night, instead of watching TV, while climbing the stair master, or during your lunch break. Or get a book on tape/CD for the car. (I couldn’t wait to drive anywhere just to listen to Annie Proux’s That Old Ace in the Hole!) Read in the genre you’re writing in, read outside the genre to widen your span, and read about writing.
During my first full-time job the summer I was fourteen, I raced every day to the couch in the ladies’ lounge during each 15-minute break to devour A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That book saved me from the monotony of paper pushing and swept me away into the wonderful world of the imagination.
I still read during my half-hour lunch breaks; reading gives me the separation I need and moves me slowly through the pile of books by my bedside (Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide; If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path; Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Women’s Self-Defense; Seabiscuit: An American Legend).
What books have you read this year? What books are on your to-read list? When do you make time to read?
ATTEND A READING:
Listening to authors read excerpts and discuss their work can inspire you to read and write more. Often authors illuminate their writing process, their approach to crafting work or getting published. You can catch a glimpse of the life behind the pen, and feel camaraderie within your community. Check out listings at your local independent bookstore, university or café.
This year I only went to a few author readings, including Anne Lamott and Pam Houston. Both women were insightful, humorous and clearly accomplished in their craft and identities as writers. Sitting in packed rooms of eager audiences was akin to singing along with a favorite band at a concert, albeit quieter. Next week I’m going to a local book signing by my cousin, veteran YA author Ellen Schreiber of the Vampire Diaries series!
What author events have you attended? What readings will you listen to this year?