Why You Need One More for the Other

Anyone that knows me, or has read some of my other Medium pieces, absolutely knows without a doubt that I advocate for reading.

If you haven’t read any of my other pieces and this is your first time getting to know me, it’s time I brought you up to speed. Do me a favor and check one of these out… Then you’ll really know what I’m talking about!

I’m pretty passionate about reading. Okay, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way it’s time we got down to business…

The business of a read-cation…

So what is a read-cation and why are they important? A read-cation is essentially a block of time that you spend doing nothing but reading. It’s a vacation from your writing, from work, from literally everything but reading.

I try to have these while I’m taking an actual vacation from work as it makes it easier to be able to read a book without being interrupted. I just did this this past week and a half and it was one of the best pieces of inspiration and R&R that I’ve had in a long time.

It’s Vegas, and I spent it reading a book. 

This past week I flew to Phoenix and visited my favorite family member. I spent several days with my grandmother. I love her for many reasons but the biggest being that she has always accepted me however I am.

For the time I spent with her, most of it was on her couch sprawled out with my phone and a Goodreads app and the book I was conquering at that time. Following that, I traveled to Vegas for four days. My significant other was attending a conference most of the day time, which left the night to explore the flashy city.

Above is a photo of the view from our hotel room. We were on the top floor, and I had the expanse of a beautiful city in front of me that looked ready to explore. But instead of leaving the confines of the feather bed and the leather couch… I spent nearly every day from the time I woke up until five in the afternoon reading.

I didn’t turn on the television.

I barely looked at my phone (unless I was updating my book’s progress in Goodreads).

I blasted through three (300+ paged) books in five days.

Now, if it wasn’t the most carefree week I had in years, I don’t know what else it would have been. Beyond just the sheer enjoyment of exploring the worlds between the pages, there were a couple of things that came with this read-cation.

First, I didn’t write.

Obviously at first, this was not easy for me. You’re talking to someone to tries writing something, no matter how small, daily. I put my laptop away, my notebook and my pen, and I focused on reading the book in front of me. I did however change scenery by reading some Medium articles, commenting back to readers, and publishing a piece I had already completed. But for the most part, I steered clear of writing. I needed a break — a real break.

It’s true that sometimes it takes stepping away to truly realize the importance of something. When we’re so close to our projects, sometimes we need to take a step back. Get our noses out of the paint and penmanship. It offers a bigger picture and enlightenment with understanding.

Space is a good thing.

Space is especially a good thing when you’re incredibly attached to what you do.

Second, I was able to complete my yearly reading goal.

This is a smaller accomplishment that came out of this, but still worth mentioning all the same.

I’m someone who used to read every free second of every day. Then, like most college students, I didn’t have free time for enjoyable reading because my eyes and brain were always glued to textbooks. By the end of any typical day, words on a page were the last thing I wanted to see.

Near the end I actually preferred the bottom of a beer pint.

It also didn’t help that I was an English major, and had completed nearly the entire anthology and complete works of Shakespeare… Whew, that’s an accomplishment in and of itself! So I was never to hard on myself when I didn’t want to read anything for pleasure. Because at that point there was no pleasure in that activity anymore, and that just wouldn’t have been fair to the authors.

With that being said, I never got back into regularly reading. I thought to myself that I should but it wasn’t until this year I set a small and manageable goal to read twelve novels by the end of 2018. I completed that this week.

I know, twelve novels doesn’t seem like much. But I was starting to build a habit of reading. I’m just pleased I started somewhere and it stuck.

Book of the Month has helped with inspiring this goal too. I got on board with them, and I get to choose a book every month for $15 that’s a beautiful hardback book. Typically they vary between best-sellers and debut novelists. And any book after my first is $10. Frankly I feel like I’m the one getting the sweet end of the deal because I’m getting quality books that would normally be about $20 as hardcovers, and I’m getting them sent to me every single month.

I mean, I’m sort of advertising for them, but at the same time I stand for reading and the current program they have going is honestly phenomenal. I haven’t had a single bad experience — including with my selections of books. I have enjoyed every single book that I’ve gotten from them so far as they are truly excellent reads.

If you’re wanting to try it out, use my referral. You’ll get your first book free, and you’re probably going to get hooked after that. (Click here for your first free book.)

Third, I came back to my writing refreshed and excited for the empty page.

While I was reading, I found myself constantly thinking about my current writing projects. I was examining the methods of the writers before and thinking about how I could adapt it to my own writing.

This is what a good writer does, and I encourage you to do the same. We learn from other’s craft and we adapt it to our own style. Reading is one of the quickest ways (also the most effective and efficient) in becoming a better writer.

I mean, I’m biased about my own writing so for all I know my stuff could come across like a trash panda had written it from a garbage can on a dirty type writer… Exactly like this little guy below…

Trash panda was found here

That might be how I come across. Who knows. But at this point it’s early in my career and I don’t care that much.

Why?

Because I’m doing something to be better at my skill of choice. I KNOW I’m not the best writer that I could be right now. But I’m doing something about it. That something is reading.

Not only did I find myself contemplating ways in which I could improve during my read-cation, I also found myself inspired to write!

I feel like when I hold a valuable and tangible book in my hands, something that I truly connect with, it inspires me to want to do the same. I have always felt like this. That’s part of the reason I pursue writing so much already — I want to be able to have the same affect on my readers that writers have had on me. I want to create that magic… Because that unique kind of magic can really only truly be found between the pages of a book.

Ultimately, what I’ve gleaned from this experience is that it’s important for me to take a step back sometimes. I can still be working on my writing without actually working on my writing…

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