Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today has been a challenging reading day for me. Construction is still going on, in the house (or rather on top of it), as well as on the streets surrounding my house. Ahh, there's nothing like living in a construction zone to produce nice, peaceful reading conditions. Plus, I have not been sleeping well lately, which always makes my brain feel like it's going on strike. So what's a blogger to do? I have several strategies for pushing through a reading plateau, and I'm going to share them with all of you dear readers just in case you ever end up reading a book that you kind of want to finish but kind of don't.

1. Break the book down into ten page sections and only think about those ten pages, the other pages do not exist. - It's just like school where I spent most of the day thinking, If I just get through the next ten minutes then I'll be ten minutes closer to getting home where I can watch Brady Bunch re-runs. (I was a wild and crazy kind of teenager.)

2. Get up and take at least a five minute break where you are doing something boring and useful (like cleaning or cooking) that requires actual effort but no brain power. - I would not recommend you approach this the way I do, which is to spend the first five minutes of the break trying to convince myself that watching General Hospital qualifies as doing something useful because it gets one more thing off the DVR, before giving in and watching not only General Hospital but All My Children as well.

3. Drink some really, really cold water. - Don't ask me to explain that one. I just can't.

Today's book, "Here is compassionate, practical, and often humorous advice about how to find time to write, how to discover your personal style, how to make sentences come alive, and how to overcome procrastination and writer's block - including more than thirty provocative "Try this" exercises to get your pen moving."

Creative thoughts (or maybe not, because I'm really tired today):

  • I love reading books about writing. Of course, most of the time I expect to become a better writer simply by having read the book. I read about other people become better writers, I vow I will use every writing exercise in the book, and then I do two of them before tossing the book aside while whining that, The advice in this stupid book doesn't work. In other words, I'm lazy. I took the same approach to all of the self help books I read in my earlier twenties (yes, I'm one of those kind of people) - I bought them, vowing that this book would be the thing that alters the very course of my life, the book that sets me on a new path to being a radically different person, I read the book (or usually skim it), I sense the book it total b.s. but I keep soldiering on anyway, I ignore 99.9% of the advice and make a totally half-baked attempt at following the other 0.1%, and then I put it on the bookshelf where I will look at it every day and feel like a vastly superior person to those lazy bums who don't even bother to try to improve themselves. So really what we have here is a situation where I'm lazy and hypocritical (which happens to be my favorite combination of bad qualities.) But hey, we've all got problems right?

  • Today's book turned out to be one of the best writing books I've ever read. But I'm mostly saying that because it was one of the shortest - a nice comfortable 238 pages, just enough to make me feel like it has the power to transform my life, but not too much that it made me feel like I had to put actual effort into it. Plus, the book had tons of short chapters (62 in all) that made the book feel like an even quicker read than it was. But, even if I leave my laziness out of the equation, I still thought today's book was interesting and useful. I would definitely recommend it to you dear readers - especially if any of you are lazy like I am.