I know. Sometimes you have to get away from that writing project. If you’re one of those people who can write for days on end without needing a break, this post is not for you. No, this is for those of us who sometimes need to step away from what we’re writing, lest we strangle our characters and develop a mighty hatred for the story we’re embroiled in.
Absolutely loving your own writing project 24/7 is not a requirement for being a writer. There are almost certainly going to be times when you hate the sight of your own words and just want to run at the thought of working on that project. When you get that feeling, though, don’t be so quick to run to something frivolous. Sure, those frivolous pursuits have their place, but you shouldn’t always be using them as an escape. Instead, try to fill your non-writing time (or at least some of it) with a productive form of escape: reading.
Why is reading so productive? Well, in general, it’s just a better way to engage your mind than staring mindlessly at a screen. (Just so you know, I say that as someone who spends a lot of time staring at a screen. Do as I say, not as I do.) But reading can be especially beneficial for writers for several reasons.
Inspiration: While you’re reading another author’s work, you may feel inspired to continue your own work. Sometimes seeing what another author has done will give you that extra push you need to care about your own story again. In this way, I guess reading can be a tool for getting back to writing sooner. But it doesn’t have to be…who says you have to stop after this chapter?
Idea Building: In addition to simply seeing what an author has accomplished, reading what they’ve come up with might spur you on to new ideas for your own story. We all steal from what we read to some degree, so if you’re reading something you really enjoy and admire, you’re likely to find some ideas in there that you can use in your own project.
Engaging: Reading is just another way to engage with words. If you don’t feel like creating words, reading someone else’s is the next best thing. That way, you’re still in the realm of writing and you’re still thinking about writing as a craft. You’re just doing it with a book or e-reader in your hand rather than a pen or laptop.
So, the next time you’re feeling burnt out on writing and want to gravitate toward Netflix, consider reading instead! It might just help you get your writing mojo back.
— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan