I don’t think I have had a weekend of no reading – no books, no newspapers or magazines, no social media or podcasts – since I learnt to read. I certainly am not far from a book unless I’m actually on holiday seeing exciting things, not stuck at home in my usual routine. However, I decided to try it out as one of the suggested exercises in Julia Cameron’s famous text The Artist’s Way, which aims to help you recover a healthy creative practice (Cameron thinks you should actually do a week of no reading, but this was not going to happen with the kind of job I do).
This is a pictorial representation of my normal weekend (I do sometimes see people as well):
So what did I do instead? And did I gain the clarity of mind that Cameron promises?
- did the writing tasks from The Artist’s Way
- cleaned the house much more thoroughly than usual
- talked to my housemate
- watched most of Hellbound (highly recommended. Cameron thinks you should also not watch films and TV, but as my attention span for films and TV is awful, I thought this was a good opportunity to practice focus).
- watched Mother/Android (not very good)
- went to the roller disco to practice my skating
- did hot yoga
- watched a couple of recommendations from the Guardian short film list
- did a couple of Yoga with Adriene sessions
- drew the pictures for this blog
- wrote 1000 words of the new draft of my Antarctic novel
- had a candlelit bath listening to a Laura Marling album (I never listen to music normally)
- walked my English springer spaniel puppy
- went to a vigil for Ashling Murphy that was held outside the Tyneside Irish Centre [image below]
What were the results of a normal weekend with no reading?
- I was surprised to realise how lonely I felt without being able to read anything at all. On the upside, I definitely had more social energy and felt more open to chatting to people.
- Bus journeys were especially boring, but I was also surprised at how easily I could become lost in my own thoughts without the temptation of my phone or Kindle, and how I enjoyed observing the scenery and the other passengers.
- I definitely felt more clear-headed this weekend, and I was very productive with my own writing – which is what Cameron promises.
- I found it hard not to have books to look forward to – giving up social media and the rest was surprisingly easy, but I definitely use reading as a reward.
- I realised how much I fill time between tasks with reading or browsing. Without being able to do either, I became incredibly efficient!
Would I do it again?
Yes – I would definitely do a much longer stretch without social media or news, and I could even be persuaded to do a longer stretch without books – but I think I’d like to be somewhere more interesting while I did it!
One thing I definitely want to try is not using my phone when I’m out and about, except for Google Maps etc. I really don’t need it.
Would you ever try a period of time with no reading of any kind? Have you done it already, and if so, what was your experience?
Happy weekends past.