Starting the New Year with a Diet – A Word Diet

by admin on February 23, 2009

Like many people, I started the New Year with a diet. But this diet doesn’t involve cutting calories or bypassing the bakery. It’s about cutting words. The theory is, by reducing the amount of words I consume each day, I’ll be able to find the energy to climb out of my creative rut and start exercising writing muscles that have grown flabby.

It sounds strange – even wrong – to ask someone who writes to reduce their consumption of words. After all, reading is good, right? It is, indeed, in moderation. But if you’re using other people’s words to distract yourself from investing the time and effort to do your own writing, it can be a problem.

It all started when a dear writing friend gave me a copy of “The Artist’s Way” when my writing productivity was at an all-time low. In the book, author Julia Cameron suggests a week of what she calls “reading deprivation” to jump start the creative flow of anyone who feels stuck – whether in their writing, their art, their career, or just life. It seems that when we devote too much time stuffing ourselves with the words of others, we may find ourselves lacking the time or energy to do our own writing.

As someone whose favorite thing is sinking into a good book after a long day, or devouring a new magazine in one sitting, it was hard to commit to this diet. I’ll be honest. It’s been hard even to get started. But by limiting my word input for even a few days, I’ve started seeing results. Actually, you’re seeing them yourself – my increased word output includes this new blog.

I know I won’t have to restrict my word intake for much longer, once I get in the habit of exercising my creativity every day. And thank goodness, because writers by nature are readers.

But if I find myself reading more and writing less, I’ll know it’s time to get back on the word diet for a few days. Instead of reaching for that juicy novel that beckons me from my bedside table, I’ll pick up my journal and do a few finger lifts with my pen.

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