I think it is safe to say that most writers are readers before they become writers.
I was an avid reader as a child and as a teenager and then I lost my reading practice for a few years, regained it in mandatory college, luckily I studied subjects that somehow fascinated me so it wasn’t too hard to dive into the literary list of books we were obliged to devour, and then, years ahead a bit disillusioned and a bit lost, I let reading slip out of my daily routine. I became a weekly reader. Then I co-wrote my first screenplay and produced a DVD series and the reading dropped to monthly. As I entered the film business, I dropped reading considerably. I mean, I used to devour 400-600 page novel in a day or two. Seriously. Yesterday it took me hours to finish reading a mere essay. I was such a good reader! Like the gold-medalists of readers. Now I’m scraping not to come in last.
I became a weekly reader, a monthly reader and then an embarrassing yearly reader.
When I discovered screenplays and went back to being a monthly reader and eventually a weekly reader but screenplay is science, it’s math, not literature. Darn it.
Back to zero.
Now looking at my syllabus for the semester I tingle with fear and excitement… Excitement because I’m very eager to learn and become even better at what I do…. Fear because reading is like riding a bike or running (my new-found favorite staying healthy move your ass activity) and like running, your muscles feel the pain when you haven’t hit the pavement, even for just one week. You always sort of have to start over until your muscle memory kicks in and your body goes back to what it was capable of before you stopped. It’s the same with the reading brain. If you haven’t been practicing, then it’s going to take patience and perseverance and discipline to get you back on track.
I taught myself to write everyday. I’ve taught myself to run 3,4 times a week. I’ve taught myself to go to Pilates 2 times a week. Now it’s time to re-teach myself to read everyday. Build it up 20 pages a day, 30, 40, like the kilometers on any given running route or beating my own pace even by a second every week. I should have never stopped being an avid reader in the first place, but the positive side is: if you’ve done it long enough then you’ve made long-term memories of your practice. You’ll definitely bounce back faster the second time around. But it’ll be painful. Make no mistake.
Or.. you could just be smarter than me and never quit reading daily…. ever. 🙂