Read Less in 2015


Read Less in 2015

I'm about to say something a little crazy and a little taboo, readers. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2015 is to read less. Yes, you heard me right; I'm pledging to do a little less reading in the new year.

Now, let me clarify. The reading of books is one of life's abiding joys, and it's absolutely essential in order to become a better writer. I'm not slowing down on reading books at all; in fact, I'm hoping to pick up the pace. But the way our modern life works these days, there's so much OTHER reading that gets in the way. We start our day by picking up our phones and reading emails. Then it's reading the newspaper headlines and some of those news articles with breakfast. Then we check on our Twitter feeds and our Facebook feeds. By the time it's lunch, we've read tremendous amounts of information, and almost none of it is worthwhile. When I get on my computer, it's so, so easy for an hour to fly by just clicking tabs, reading articles about the 50 images of dogs who want their dinners right now, or another opinionated blog post about an issue that just confirms my opinions, or another fashion or productivity or tech blog post. There's so much dreck out there, and by the end of day we feel saturated with reading, and yet not quite nourished.

Compare that to the feeling of challenging, thoughtful, immersive reading. You feel like you're exploring a new world, scuba diving in an exotic reef, traveling in a space ship to another planet or in a time machine to another era. You feel worried for the characters, delighted by their triumphs, eager to learn more about them. You come up for air feeling sustained. You've grown and been changed by the book you just read.

That's nothing compared to the slack-jawed stare I usually have when I've sunk into my internet trance, clicking enticing click-bait after click-bait. There's just not much growing and changing going on when you're reading shallow, insipid writing.

So that's why I'm pledging to read fewer internet articles and blog posts, etc., this year. They can be entertaining, but they don't end up feeling sustaining. I need my reading to be special, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to read everything out there in cyberspace as well as everything on the dusty shelf of a library. So let's pledge to acknowledge that not all reading is equal; some things are good for us, and some things are either neutral or outright bad. Some things open our eyes, and some make us stare blankly at a screen.

What's one writerly new year's resolution that YOU have this year? What will you pledge to do more of -- or less of? And how will you maintain a thread of creativity in your life?