The lineup. The four publications I cannot resist.
Most Saturday mornings, I get up and prepare to do a little writing. I keep the same schedule on the weekends as I do during the week, which means a 4:45 am wake-up call (courtesy of my cat, Hans, who keeps better time than an atomic clock). I'll feed the animals, get my coffee, and start to walk upstairs to my office...when I'll notice it. Sitting right there on the kitchen table. A fresh, just delivered paper copy of The New Yorker.
Before I know it, I'm comfortably ensconced on the couch and getting started on the letters to the editor.
Just one more page, I'll tell myself. Just the first column. Maybe the second too.
Ah, but this article on immigration reform is fascinating. Have to finish it.
Suddenly, it's 8 am, the dog wants to go the dog park. The husband wants to go to the lake. My New Yorker is half finished and I've written zero words.
You'd think the weekends would be my most productive, but the extra hours are deceptive and too often they're filled consuming other people's great writing in place of doing any writing myself. Or, Saturday and Sunday quickly turn into a combination of fun and chores and the opportunity for undisturbed writing time, outside the early hours of the morning, becomes more and more remote.
So, yeah, reading is actually a problem for me! If it's not The New Yorker, then it's the WaPo, or the NY Times. Like a cat burglar, The Atlantic sneaks in through the window that is Twitter and absconds with my time. I'm going to blame the authors. There are just too many talented journalists and writers out there and they've never been so accessible before.
If I'm not reading a magazine or a newspaper, then I'm reading a book. Yet, maybe books are easier to put down? You know you won't finish the story in one sitting the way you can with an article. But it's still time spent that could have been used for writing. If left to my own laziness, I'd consume and consume and consume every decent word out there without contributing a single one of my own.
We all know reading helps you be a better writer. It exposes you to new ideas, narrative structures, vocabulary. But that's only meaningful if you take the necessary step of actually writing.
I could divide my life into a pie-chart of time, and it's undeniable, reading just takes up too large a slice. Reading sometimes competes with my husband and my animals (sorry!). It often becomes a distraction at work.
I guess it's kind of a problem.
But what to do? Stop reading? Read less? Doesn't that sound...wrong? Sometimes, I have to be firm with myself. Put the magazine down. Go upstairs. Write. I'll listen to myself maybe half the time. I'm much better at sticking to a schedule during the week and more prone to sporadic, but epic writing sessions on the weekend (i.e. it's 1500 words, or nothing at all).
Is reading a problem for anyone else? Do you do anything about it? Do you even want to do anything about it?