I have a shoe problem. I've just spent the last 45 minutes on my favorite shopping website Zappos.com (which is the best place in the universe to buy shoes--don't get me started) browsing through 25 pages of flats available in size 8 1/2, popping half a dozen cute pairs into my shopping cart (just in case). As I viewed the shoes from every angle, I was thinking, ya know--there are so many cute shoes in the world, it's a shame I only have two feet (and one closet).
I feel the same way about books--there are so many good ones I want to read, it's a shame there are only 24 hours in a day. I guess I have a book problem, too. They fill six bookcases in my house; they're piled up in corners, on top of the speakers, next too the bed, in front of the fireplace, on the bathroom floor, and all over my cubicle at the office. After recently acquiring more books at the SCBWI conference and making that stack that mocks me from my nightstand (see below) officially taller than I am, I began to stress about reading. I have a job, an almost-two-year-old, an eBay addiction, a love of TV, and I work on a lit mag in my spare time (when I'm not performing domestic goddess duties). Something's gotta give!
So I offer here, to all the world, My Five-Pronged Plan to Read Way More Than I Do Now:
- Schedule reading, just like I do everything else. In the beginning of the week, I work out which days I'll go to the grocery store and the gym, when I'll take a trip to the mall to replace my watch battery, when I'll pick up my dry cleaning, which yoga classes I'll attend. Why not add reading to my weekly plan?
- Cut down on Internet time. I'm on the Internet--a lot. I've got a list of blogs I visit. I read my email when I eat breakfast. Every time I pass the computer, it beckons me, like an ice cream shop to someone on a diet. I must stop browsing the net every time I'm bored. I'll pick up a novel instead.
- Cut down on TV. I don't watch a ton of TV during the summer rerun season, so sorry Jon Stewart, sorry Colbert--nighttime TV must be replaced with nighttime reading, at least a few days a week. And soon, when the new TV season starts, One Tree Hill and The O.C.--your days are numbered. Lost and The Office, you're safe. Oh--and Gilmore Girls (baby steps, baby steps).
- Read on my lunchbreak. Whether I'm eating at my desk or in my kitchen (1.5 miles from the office) I should grab a book instead of Entertainment Weekly. I'm sure my boss will understand if I occasionally get caught up in a novel and accidentally take a bit of a long lunch. It's research--it's my duty to stay up on the market and reading new titles is important.
- Read at the gym. When I spend a good 50 minutes on the cardio machine do I really need to stare at the TV reading the captions for General Hospital or Judge Judy? No. I'll plop a book on the stand instead--I bet it makes the uphill climb to nowhere zip right by.
I can't count the number of times in CWIM someone offers this same advice to writers: Read. Read, read, read. Read some more. How do you all find the time? I'll let you know how My Plan is working and I'll tell you about the books I finish. Now back to Zappos to finish my shopping (then I'll read).