Thursday, January 24, 2008

Should you be reading this?

I haven't read anything since Sunday evening.

OK, I have read things for work, seen a few headlines over people's shoulders and read the kids a chapter from a star wars book. But I haven't read a book on the train, looked at any blogs, or searched for anything interesting on the internet.

I first did this five years ago, when I read Julie Cameron's great book The Artist's way. Half way through the book Cameron tells us to not to read anything for a whole week. The purpose of the exercise being to stop smothering your own creativity under the weight of other people's writings.

I decided to do the reading break again this week because I was becoming addicted to checking the Independent Fulham Forum to see whether Fulham had signed the human goal machine who is going to help Jimmy Bullard keep us in the premiership.

Abstinence shines a harsh torch on your habits. Each day I would check the forum ten times, read any Fulham report in all the newspapers at work, check the official FFC website, and look at my favourite Fulham blog. I was even picking up both of the crappy free papers that they give away on London streets (and that I had boycotted on environmental grounds) just for the little sentence they give on Fulham every night.

I like Cameron's book because it is direct and stark. She doesn't think creativity is optional, or a hobby. Her book isn't a guide to drawing pretty pictures or writing charming stories. For her the existence of the universe was due to a bold creative act, and we as valued creations of that universe are here to create too.

Our main excuse for not expressing our creativity is that we think we don't have time. As soon as we turn off the dripping tap of things that we do to entertain ourselves, (reading that novel, watching the telly, doing that google search), we are faced with empty chunks of time, staring at us, waiting to be put to use.

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