People are obsessed with reading these days. It seems as if I’ve come across at least five articles every week telling me how I can read more and that I should read more.
But every time I read those articles, I feel they are missing the other side of the story. For me, reading is never the end goal. I read to learn, to change, to write, and to create. Reading is necessary, but is just a step in the whole creative growing process. I don’t want to read 100 books just so that I can tell people at the end of the year that I read 100 books. Why is that an accomplishment by itself?
Putting so much emphasis on reading seems to be distracting and counterproductive to me. We can only squeeze so much free time out of our busy lives. Why spend all of it on reading?
One potential reason that people do this is because reading is passive in nature, which makes it the easy thing to do. There are people arguing that reading should be active and they are right. But by default if you are a reader, you typically keep an open mind and listen to what the author has to say; you don’t need to agree or disagree about anything — you can just let it flow through your mind, and hope that something will resonate with you, convince you, and change your life.
When you read, you could be like a king on his front-row seat, casually looking at the stage and saying: Amuse me. Passive reading is not hard to do, so let’s not make it seem like you put in a lot of work and that it’s a huge achievement that you’ve been sitting in that seat for thirty minutes daily.
While you can try reading actively, which is way better than passive reading already, I would like to suggest something even bolder in this article: Try writing. Try creating. Try to actually get behind an idea and convince other people that it’s true. Instead of letting ideas flow through your mind, try to actively squeeze them out and put them into words.
Reading is necessary to all creative works, but don’t value it too highly. Focus on the thing you are trying to achieve, and don’t use reading as an excuse to procrastinate.
A lot of readers might say, “But I if don’t know enough about this topic. How can I write an article about it or create something in this field?”
My answer would be:
Have in your mind that after reading these books, you are going to write something or create something based on them. This simple thought would make you more engaged in your reading, and get more out of it.
Share your findings. Be honest about where you are in your field and where you want to be. Start sharing and you will be amazed by the feedback and help you can get from the community. None of us is perfect. And you are probably better than you think.
In the end, no one can become an expert just by reading. Experts get recognized by the things they write and create.
That’s why I’m not going to read 100 books this year, and maybe you also shouldn’t focus on that. Instead of being proud of what we consumed this year, let’s be proud of what we created.
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