Just as I know that getting more sleep would be good for me and somehow still don’t prioritise it, I know I should read more. You get out what you put in, be that to your mind, your body or your piggy bank. Wide reading is the fuel for good writing, and I know how important it is to do it; to constantly be learning and growing and fuelling the desire to write. But, just like going to bed earlier, it falls down the priority list easily. It feels like an indulgence; a treat; something to do to relax rather than a crucial component of developing as a writer. Finding work; doing work; staying on top of admin: that all feels more important, and somehow reading, for me, has slipped to become a weekend morning treat.
I love reading. The world is full of books that I want to read, and the rational part of my mind knows that reading them is good for me, both personally and professionally. I also know that sleeping more would make me a healthier and more productive person, yet still I don’t go to bed early enough. So how do we find the balance? How do we allow ourselves to accept that sometimes down time is part of on-it time? While the responsibility is ultimately on me, I can’t help but think it’s a cultural problem, part and parcel of trying to survive under capitalism. So urgent is the need to earn, and so engrained is the idea that we need to work all the time, that unpicking the stitches is difficult. Studies suggest that a shorter working day would lead to more productivity for businesses, allowing workers to be properly rested and fully engaged during the hours they’re on the job. I’m a big believer in working less and living more, and I know how important it is to fuel the fire. But still…
With reading, the short-term answer for me might be audiobooks. I’ve only tried a free one so far; I haven’t yet committed to a subscription. But listening to an audiobook in transition between one place and another seems like it might be the best solution for me, at least until I can find a better balance within the waking hours I have available. It’s a plaster on a wound that needs to heal properly, but sometimes dressing the wound is the best you can do in the moment.
As for sleep, that’s still a work in a progress.