Write, but don’t read

I’m a professional writer. That is to say I get paid by companies and clients to apply my personal insights and persuasive expertise in written form to the end of sales. Just as an athlete applies their quadriceps, explosive reaction times or hard-as-a-rock head to the end of goals/points/concussed enemies and sponsorship ROIs, I am expected to be good at what I do. And great at what I do if I ever wish to make a real name for myself. I am Capitalism’s deep and stirring voice reminding you to “Just do it.”

That aside, it has happened before where, upon learning what I actually do for a living (note: copywriting has zilch to do with law*), I have been asked what literature I choose to indulge in. This is usually posed by fiction readers whom I can only assume see me as some kind of credible authority on what makes great writing. Maybe they hope I read the same books they do. Perhaps they want a new genre or author to get wrapped up in under a blanket with a cup of cocoa on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Maybe they’re just humouring me because I tell the occasionally witty joke and offer my hoodie to dames when it gets cold out**.

Whatever their reasons, I usually get the same reaction when I do tell them.

Her: *smiling* So you’re a writer? What books do you enjoy reading?

Me: Yeah, I don’t really read.

*face loses expression*

Her: At all?

Me: No, not really.

Her: But you’re a writer…

And she has a point. According to my LinkedIn profile, blog title and box of business cards I never hand out, I am “a writer”.

Me: I read the papers occasionally, but then I get depressed and do spec domestic violence campaigns instead.

She’s unsure of how to respond. Her boyfriend grabs her by the arm and they leave. I’ve seen the type before.

This week has been different, though. My girlfriend bought me a copy of “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss (or Tim to his friends) and I haven’t been able to put the damn thing down. It’s strange, but in a good way. And it got me thinking: The last book I truly enjoyed this much was Freakonomics. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here before, but if you haven’t read it (and the follow-up sensation SuperFreakonomics), do yourself a favour and order a copy. Today. Available now in paperback on Amazon for the low low price of $12. “Just do it.”

Anyway, the conclusion I have arrived at is this: I read what I find deeply interesting, and it’s a pity that it doesn’t happen all that often. At this junction, mind you, my life coach would reprimand me for justifying why I don’t read as much as I should, but on this point I stand firm***. If I’m going to invest twenty hours in reading a book, I want it to be an absolute pleasure whenever I pick it up. Anything less and I ask you, “What’s the point?”

I look at bookworms with a sense of awe and (on some level) jealousy. I wish I could pick up any book, or go to a book swap and walk away with five novels I know will be coursed cover-to-cover by next week, but I can’t. It’s too painful. I’m not strong enough.

Maybe I’d be a better writer if I did read more. Maybe I’d feel more fulfilled. I don’t know. All I know is this: 1) I read what I love to read and don’t find nearly enough books to satisfy my particular taste, and 2) I highly recommend The 4-Hour Work Week to anyone who has not read it yet.


*E&OE. Ts and Cs apply.

** I’m old school like that.

*** That’s what SHE said, amirite?


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