Of course we grow ourselves through reading, but perhaps there is something we can, as writers, do with more care, with more skill, and in fact to get the result that the Buddhists call, “Skillful Means“. As a quick note: Skillful means is simply getting two, or more, for every one you put in.
I may have given this example before. Two people work together in the same two-story office. Both are required to go up and down the stairs the same number of times each day, but there is a difference between them. One mumbles, stumbles and grumbles on the stairs during every trip. At the end of the day this is one tired person.
The second person has a mantra that is spoken each time the stairs are used. “I’m getting exercise”. Not much as mantras go, but very powerful in result. At the end of the day person two is full of energy and ready for whatever is next. All in the mind? OK, sure. But I’ll bet you’ve seen examples of this very thing.
But what, you ask, has this got to do with reading?
Glad you asked. Try this:
Make two lists of books. List one would be the books you would take to the beach, or to read under a tree, or on a comfortable chair in your home—for enjoyment. These would typically be books in the style you like to write.
The second list should be books that keep you current. Non-fiction should be high on that list, but current novels out of your genre would also be good. These books are the type that will keep you up to date with events, with science, with philosophy, and those things in life that go into making a good novel, but are perhaps not what you would choose for the top of your reading list.
Now. The secret. Trade off between the two stacks. Yes, I know, it will make your fun reading stack grow, but it will also make your knowledge, understanding, and your ability to involve what you learn in your stories grow as well.
So, you ask, is this really all that necessary? No. It isn’t. But the fact is, it is a program that will pay you big over time.
All I ask is that you think about it. ))