That is the best advice that I have ever received. Just that, plain and simple.
Read. Read. Read.
Read everything. Read all of things. Make time for reading before Netflix. Read on the bus. Read on the tube. Carry a book around everywhere and read whilst you wait for meetings, coffee dates etc. Read before bed. Read to your partner. Read to your children. Just read.
Recently, I have been accepting that the only thing that I actually want to do with my life is write. Now, I am fully aware that isn’t the most practical/financially viable desire but there it is. So, I have been writing as much as possible. Poetry and short stories, mainly. I think it has only been natural that thoughts of self-doubt have plagued this process. What has been wonderful, though, is reading. By reading as widely as possible I have learnt the best lesson – writing can look however you want it to. I don’t have to write like anybody else. I can write like me, whatever that looks like. My poetry does not have to be traditionally “poetic” enough. My prose does not have to sound like anybody else. My literary voice does not have to sound like another writer to be valid. When I read, I expose myself to so many different styles and voices – I validate my own writing by realizing that not all writers sound the same.
There are also few things that motivate me to write more than reading. Everything I read inspires me to write more, to try different things, to create different characters, to build different worlds. I learn how to invoke new imagery. I learn about different people so I can write more diversely. It’s great. So long as I always read, I will always have fuel to write.
On the note of learning about different people, one of my main aims at the moment is to educate myself about important issues. What’s a great way to do that? Read. I have read some amazing books recently on sexism, gender, racism and LGBTQ+ characters. Of course, there are some great movies and documentaries out there about similar issues – I would also always recommend seeking those out. But there is no better way to really get inside a person’s thoughts than by reading. I recently filmed the “Be A Good Human” book tag over on my Youtube channel (cue shameless plug) talking about books that have helped me be a better human by teaching me about people’s diverse experiences.
Beyond that, when I’m down, reading is one of the ways that I pick myself back up. First port of call is usually a cup of tea and zoning out for a bit in front of the TV but then it’s onto books. There are some amazing feel-good books out there that make me feel instantly more hopeful. Harry Potter is always a cozy place to go back to. Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” is my go-to depression aid. Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” contains one of the most positive outlooks on life ever. They are good places to spend some time in when the world looks a little bleak.
Many people have said to me that you never waste your time reading a book. I agree with them. Every minute I spend reading is a minute well spent. I am a proud bookworm who wouldn’t change that fact for the world.
The best advice I have ever received?