East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The reader’s block

Leave a comment

Yesterday I wrote 12.000 words – yes, OK, I cheated, because I recycled 5000 words from an unfinished work I had here sleeping on my hard disc, but anyway, 7000 words in one day, during which I also managed to read a few chapters of a book, cook dinner and prepare a special dessert this being the 15th of August… well, it perfectly shows how a lack of stress can benefit us all.
Because yesterday I wrote 12.000 words (OK, OK, 7000) because the day before yesterday I delivered the final chunk of my Ghostwriting Job from Hell, and I was told to take two days off “before the next rewrite”.

Having other things on our mind is a source of stress, and it can make it difficult, almost impossible sometimes, to do what we actually like a lot.
And we’ve all had a lot of things on our minds, these last few months.

Because of this I had a chat with a few friends, this morning, about something I have heard quite often in the last few weeks and months – book lovers finding it hard to read.
Imagine be surrounded by books you’d love to read, and finding excruciatingly difficult to concentrate and keep going.
Hell right? Hell must be just like that.

I know it’s Hell, because I’ve been there, and so this morning we discussed the ways and means to get out of this “reader’s block”.

My first suggestion is not to force it.
It’s OK to be unable to go on reading because there’s too much on our mind.
We can listen to music, watch videos on Youtube, play old videogames, or maybe even launch a podcast (Paura & Delirio was born because both hosts were feeling too stressed to read or write).
Do something else.
You’ll get back to your usual daily pages-read count in due time.

Second suggestion: read something completely different.
I know that right now there’s that specific book you’re dying to finish, and it’s not going anywhere. I know.
But it’s not going anywhere, right?
Put it aside, and read something completely different.
Possibly something you only have a tangential interest in, or maybe you are not interested in at all. Check out some obscure 19th century tome for free on the Gutenberg Project pages, or go digging in the 99 cents depths of Amazon, where you can find all sorts of stuff, from the abysmal to the quite surprising.
Is there a genre you never read, you maybe did not even know exists, that’s freely available or can be purchased cheap? Go for it.
Take yourself (and your reader’s block) by surprise.

The only true rule is not to give in to inertia, and slump on the couch staring at nothing while our monkey brain screeches and rages at the various sources of stress afflicting us.

I know we’re all afraid of what’s coming this autumn – here where I live there is a strong fear we’ll have a second lockdown, and our economy is slowly but steadily sinking while politicians bicker but do not very much to find a solution. I know it’s the same out there, in a lot of other places.

I know it’s scary.

And reading – just as doing anything else we really enjoy – helps us cope. So yes, finding you can’t read is terrifying, just as it’s terrifying finding you can’t write if writing is what you do to pay the bills.
So, just strive to strike a balance, between accepting the fact that things are not working as ordinary, and keeping up trying to do what you usually do.

Take yourself by surprise,and hold on.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.