A Writing Tip from Jessica Klimesh
WRITE LESS, READ MORE
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
As writers, we’re often told that we should be writing every day (or, at least, regularly), that we shouldn’t just wait for the muse to strike.
But writing doesn’t have to mean just writing. Tasks related to writing also count as writing: editing, revising, submitting, thinking, and—an important one—reading.
So, if you find yourself staring at a blank screen (or notebook page), no ideas coming to you, pick up a book or go to your favorite lit journal, and read.
But don’t just read. Read with intent. Read as a writer.
- Read something different than you usually write or read. If you’re a fiction writer, read poetry. If you’re a flash writer, read some long-form memoir. Expose yourself to new authors and new ways of writing (e.g., hybrid work). Then, practice writing in this different form or genre.
- Look for interesting or curious phrases in what you’re reading, and write them down. Use them as prompts for new stories/essays/poems. What image comes to you from a phrase or sentence you’ve written down? Write a story around this image or idea.
- Creating a writing habit doesn’t mean tying yourself to a chair for hours at a time. If you have a hectic schedule, you may find that you can only write for ten minutes at a time. Similarly, you don’t need to read for hours upon hours. Sometimes reading for just ten or fifteen minutes can be enough to spark your creativity and break through a block.
In short, venturing outside of your comfort zone—both reading and writing-wise—can have a number of benefits, not the least of which is boosting your creativity. And if you ever read something and think, “I wish I had written that,” go ahead and write it—with your own voice, your own spin on it. You might surprise yourself!
Jessica Klimesh is a US-based writer and technical editor whose creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Brink, Variety Pack, Ghost Parachute, Bending Genres, FlashFlood Journal, Cleaver, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Cedar Crest College and an MA in English from Bowling Green State University. She is currently working on a novella-in-flash.