One blog I follow and can recommend is called Blog About Writing. My comments below are not intended to criticise the content but to expand on the ideas.
Today the blog was about guilt – the kind that you feel when the sun is shining and you are not outside ie I should be out enjoying the sun, or when you are reading a magazine rather than a novel.
I can assure the writer that she has no need to feel even the teeniest amount of guilt as the joy of being a writer is that it gives you permission to do a range of activities with the excuse of research, beating writers’ block, planning the next chapter and even more.
Of course, if the sun is shining and you have a deadline like I had today, which required several printouts, then you really do have to stay in and there is no need to feel guilt about missing the sunshine. Perhaps resentment might be more appropriate. If you are staying in because your rigid writing routine states you should write between 9 and 3, there is no harm in printing out the last week’s drafts and taking them to a peaceful place and read them through in the sun. At the end of the day you have an edited polished script, especially if you took along a fully charged laptop so that some of it could be on screen.
Next, you need to tackle the guilt about reading during the day. All writers should be reading contemporary authors or books written in the same genre as the one they are themselves working on. It is part of the craft as is reading about writing. Likewise if you are trying to break into the magazine market then part of the job is to read stories from magazines you may intend to target with your work. Where novels are concerned I find it useful to write down new vocabulary and some choice phrases which may bear slight alteration to fit something you yourself wish to say.
Other required reading for writers is in the realms of the How to Write genre. Reading books about writing can be inspiring and even if you don’t appear to apply the strategies immediately it is likely you will be using them within a short space of time. A good book to refer to, if you are stuck in Writers Block, is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. One of her suggestions is to write the Morning Pages – three pages of whatever comes into your head. The idea is that you do not sit straight down to write seriously but write first anything that comes to you thus ridding your internal critic of all opportunities to tell you that your writing is rubbish. She stresses we should not read back our morning pages for at least six months and that we should never let anyone else read them otherwise the whole exercise is wasted.
Other pleasurable activities which may not appear to be writing per se are going for a walk to gain inspiration and, indeed, stay healthy, exercise being more necessary than for those with more active working practices. Then, of course, research takes us on magical trips, meeting and talking with people about what is our passion for our subject.
So next time you feel like reading rather than writing remember that this is all part of the craft and ditch the guilt once and for all.