Reading, Thinking and Writing. 4 May 2010
Reading, Thinking and Writing
We need to do this consistently and not necessarily in that order, if we are to grow. If we are to find new and better ways of doing and being.
1. Reading. It takes effort when we have a full day’s work ahead of us, when we have chores to finish off at the end of a day and there’s the numbing stuporous effects of the telly to contend with. But new books mean new ideas. But it doesnt have to be new books. It could be the classics that you never got around to. Time to pause and reflect. That’s what reading gives you. To give your own ideas another twirl. To rethink something you thought you already knew your thoughts on. I read on Seth Godin’s blog
recently (and I am a fan!) that the typical American buys precisely one book per year. This is what Seth had to say about this : “Of course, this isn’t true, because when it comes to books, there is no typical American. There are a lot of Americans who buy zero books for pleasure each year. And then there are people like me who buy 400. The average is irrelevant….”
So true. What do averages tell you? They tell you that on the whole, most people do this or that. But what does that mean? For as many people that might do this, there are as many or less that do that. So where does that put you? Averages don’t really help. Which brings me to my second point.
2. Writing. Writing helps us clarify our thoughts. I am making a point here about averages and what use they present to us. Do you get my point? How does this relate to reading and writing? And that is what writing is about. Clarifying your ideas, honing them down and we all know that this is really something we all need. Emails have made the prospect of instant so lovable. Things go off and out when we push send in a nano second. The age of email is one where there is less effort placed on crafting the right sort of reply. Everything is done with speed as its one constant. And much gets sacrificed. Writing (and not for email) allows you to hone your thoughts, rethink how something needs to be presented, how an idea needs to be shaped. Go through redrafts, look for another word, stumble as you find that the words are not being true to the meaning you seek to put out there. Bin and start again.
3. Thinking. We’re constantly thinking, mental noise fills us all day. But how much of it is good? How much of it leads to something productive or useful? How much of it is rote thinking…. a way of approaching something that we’re used to, a road well worn from our daily if not hourly travels… I’m not talking about the kind of thinking we do on a daily basis to get through the day. I’m talking about breakthrough thinking. Where you challenge yourself. Where you wrestle with an idea you can’t quite grasp. From a newspaper article you’ve read, a conversation you’ve had or a project you’re working on. How much time do you spend doing something like this?