A week without reading: practicing the writer’s way

Writers are always being told to read: read what you want to write, read outside your comfort zone, read books on how to write, read, read, read.  This is a good thing for me, I love reading so you don’t need to tell me thrice, but a recent exercise I came across in The Writers Way by Julia Cameron told me to stop reading, for a whole week!

The idea is that if I stop taking in so many of other peoples’ ideas, I might have a few of my own.  I was willing to give it a go because I haven’t been writing much of anything lately.

I picked a tough week to do it.  We were going on holiday, and I’d normally read more when we’re away. I read to lull myself to sleep and in different surroundings there’s nothing more comforting than going to bed with my favourite book, it felt a bit wrong to not pack any.

Not only was avoiding books, but I was to stay away from social media, news apps, emails (lots of juicy newsletters and blog posts saturate my inbox), audiobooks and podcasts.  We were visiting bonny Scotland in the camper van, which meant no television either.  The world was going to be quiet, but I think that was the idea. 

Harder than I thought

It wasn’t hard to not read a book, but it was hard to not read at all.  My husband bought a newspaper and I instinctively reached for it one day before I remembered: no reading!  I caught up on my blog comments.  Whilst this was technically reading, it didn’t feel like it was breaking the rules because comments feel more like a conversation, until I accidentally read a beautiful spring poem left in the comments, twice! (If you’d like to read this slice of magic I flouted the rules for, it’s written by Melanie Wells and can be found in the comments section of my post Blogging:rediscovering the fun). So, it’s actually quite hard to not read at all in a world where we’re always reading.  Even people who say they don’t read must be lying because there’s stuff to read everywhere, it’s almost inescapable! 

Did it work?

I thought not at first.  There were no sudden flashes of inspiration, and though I was surrounded by nature on holiday no ideas for poems or stories were forthcoming.   Then on the morning of day seven I woke up at 5am with ideas for blog posts weaving through my brain.  I got a new poem idea too, and whilst it wasn’t the font of creativity I was hoping for, one idea is better than none. I also feel strangely contented, like I’m back in tune with myself even though I didn’t know I’d lost my melody. 

I’m hitting the books again today, starting with an audiobook I’m listening to called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (I’ve already read the book but found it so inspiring I’m listening to it too) and I’ll be continuing my journey with Michael Singer to untether my soul, here’s hoping I float on a breeze of bliss.  Though perhaps this week has shown me that whilst inspiration from others is valuable, making time to hear my own inner voice is important too.

The inspiration you seek is already inside you. Be quiet and listen.


13 thoughts on “A week without reading: practicing the writer’s way

  1. That was REALLY kind of you, Rae. I can’t thank you enough for all your encouragement. 😘
    Also, I adore Rumi AND Liz Gilbert. 😍
    Finally, this is a super fun, lovely (your writing is just so fresh and easy and smile-making), and interesting blog. You are far more adventurous than I… I don’t think I’d elect to fast from reading for a week, especially on holiday! Although what it did for you is obvious as your writing seems even flowier than usual (is flowier a word? As in.. it flows beautifully.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Melanie, that’s really kind of you to say…I didn’t overthink this one (sometimes I spend too long ‘refining’ them) so maybe that’s why it flows more.

      Glad we’ve got Rumi & Liz in common, both big sources of inspiration 😊


  2. That’s quite a challenge to not read books for a week. I could do that, I think, and I could avoid the news that I read online, but what about social media? That’s reading I suppose. And I’m usually writing something for the blog so I’m reading my own words, that I’d have to stop doing. This idea is intriguing. I’ve not heard of Micheal Singer and I’ve never read Big Magic by Gilbert. You are a wealth of information. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re more than welcome Ally. I must admit I did write a blog post in this time so my own words were read, but I reasoned that was ok as I think the general gist was not to take on other peoples ideas in order to free your own. Not reading social media wasn’t as hard as I thought & I haven’t yet reinstalled the apps on my phone as I’m not missing it (yet 🤣)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d really struggle to not read for a whole week, it’s such a big part of my bedtime routine and when I want to relax and just escape to another world in my imagination.. Maybe I would feel the need to write instead, if only so I’d have something to read !!!
    Your writing always flows and I love Melanie’s use of the word flowier, that has to go in the dictionary. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is…ideally I’d like to do it once every month or two as it was nice to be minus distractions, but I’m 100 pages in to a 600 page book so it might be a while before I get round to it again!


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