letting reading themes happen: first update

Last month I wrote about how I wanted to challenge myself to lower my anxiety when it comes to reading. To let threads and pathways unfold and see where they go. Like lots of avid readers, I’m usually reading two to four books at a time. I like having audiobooks for driving, especially when NPR is doing fundraising drives. If I’m reading a book of poetry, I have to keep it to just a few pages at a time, even if it’s a small chapbook, because otherwise I find I don’t get much out of the poems or give them the attention they deserve. Generally I read a book on my Kindle (this means it’s usually an e-ARC, unless it’s a book that was easier to get out of the library digital collection than physical one), but only when I’m at the gym on a cardio machine, and then I’m reading some physical book.

I like it, for the most part, especially if I’m reading something really dense where I need lots of breaks. That’s the case now as I’m working on Symphony for the City of the Dead, which I’ve been at for more than a week and am only 150-ish pages into.

A theme that has subtly arisen is that I’m pretty consistently in the middle of some book on productivity or the creative process. I’ve been spending the past few months trying to build up steady work as a freelance writer and editor, and my other jobs are selling skincare products (random schedule), teaching fitness (split shift), and remote part-time work, so it’s been really important to train myself to work efficiently and without using Netflix as background noise. I’m also determined to finish my novel this month, and then for the next month I will be taking an online class and writing another novel. Classes are a really good way to keep me accountable and inspired.

I loved both of Austin Kleon’s books. I could only manage a few pages of The Writing Diet, which is unfortunate, because health+creative writing seemed like it would be a good fit for my interests. Rachel Aaron’s book was fantastic, and I will probably need to reread it again. And now I’m reading Twyla Tharp‘s The Creative Habit, which I hope will be a good fit for my needs as far as increasing my creative output and being productive and consistent with work. Freelance writing requires regular generating of ideas, not just lightbulbs, and I’m slowly getting better at recognizing my ideas when they come, rather than letting them flit away. Like diet books, even though I don’t believe in “dieting” exactly, I think it’s great to read different ones and pick and choose what makes the most sense to you, based on whether you agree with the research or supporting evidence plus what you identify as something that has already worked for you in the past.


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