I was on the phone with one of my sisters lately, talking about something or other I was reading, and she asked me a question that I just don’t think about that often: “Don’t you ever get tired of reading?”
My response? “Of course not! Well, I mean…sometimes. But only the bad stuff. I mean, not REALLY tired, but sometimes you need a break. But I pretty much love it.” Or something to that effect.
Let me try to answer slightly more eloquently now.
I don’t actually get tired of reading in general. That’s like getting tired of eating or watching reality television! Sometimes though, sure, reading can become a bit of a chore.
When it’s Thursday night, and you just want to eat Thai food and watch Project Runway, but you look at your Kindle and see 17 manuscripts waiting to be read, it can be kind of a bummer. And sometimes when you’re reading the third draft of something and still can’t put your finger on exactly how to direct an author to solve a problem, it can be frustrating.
As I’m sure everyone realizes, nothing about writing (or agenting or editing) is an exact science. When that unknowable factor starts to needle me, it’s usually time to put down the manuscript and refocus.
Over the past (mumble) years I’ve been here, I’ve found that the best way to keep a fresh eye on the manuscripts I’m reading is to make sure that I’m regularly reading published books. I try to read a book a week (some months go better than others) because when I don’t I find that I lose perspective a bit. Reading published books clears my mind and lets me go back to new material feeling a bit refreshed. It keeps me from always reading as though I’m looking to find problems in material which is often unproductive. I’d rather simply read, and then let problems uncover themselves if that makes any sense.
In the long run, I’ve always felt best about editing material when I’ve just finished something I loved.
Does the same hold true for you, dear readers? Do you write best when you make sure to read things you love regularly? Or is the flip side true that if you get stuck in the writing of something, the best thing to do is try to work on something different to clear your system a bit?