I was going to tell you that I was doing it, ALL OF IT, but secretly, I wasn’t going to. Or, more specifically, I wasn’t going to do ONE PARTICULAR thing that Julia says YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO – NO EXCUSES!
Now, I hadn’t planned on being a Liar-McLiar-Pants, but what Julia asks us to do this week is hard. HARD!!! And it’s not fair. And it’s dumb. And I don’t wanna!
What is it, you ask?
She wants us to stop reading. For a whole week! NO! READING!
Not books, not magazine articles, not emails, not newspapers, not online, not in-print, not on the back of someone’s T-Shirt (I might be making that last one up).
She calls this “the week of reading deprivation” (p. 87).
And what are we to do instead, you ask? Watch a lot of TV?
No. TV is not on the list of substitutions.
Then what are we supposed to do? Sit and stare at the wall?
Julia provides us with a list of suggestions (which I won’t go in to now). But, to summarize, you are to complete little tasks you’ve put off (like pay bills, sort closet) and/or do fun things (dinner with friends/dance).
Here’s what she says “sooner or later, if you are not reading, you will run out of work and be forced to play” (p. 88).
Why does she want us to do this? Is she being mean-spirited?
Here’s her explanation:
“For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers… [r]eading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill with new words—long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion. We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static” (p. 87).
I understand what she’s saying here, and I’m a big fan of silence and solitude. I also know what it’s like to not be able to hear your inner voice for so long that the voice sounds like a stranger (or crazy person).
But, to not be able to read, (while I’m currently reading three books at the same time), is something I wasn’t prepared for! Hence, my choice to ignore it.
But, the more I’ve been thinking about it, (or avoiding thinking about it), the more I’ve realized that she might be on to something, and that I should give it a shot.
“For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own” (p. 87).
What she’s saying resonates with me. It’s a lot easier to read other people’s words than to write my own.
So, starting Sunday, I’m going on a week-long reading moratorium. (Let’s hope I can do it!)
Care to join me?
UP NEXT: The real Week Four…