All writers who want to grow and improve in their skill should read. Many of the writers I know do, and those are the ones whose skill improves. I also read. But, with me, it fluctuates.

I go through cycles with my reading. While I enjoy doing it, my interests change. Not necessarily in what I read genre-wise, because I read widely, but in what I read project-wise.

Most of the time, especially when I’ve been in writing downswings this year, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading a variety of books written by other authors. Right now, I’ve got one I’m reading for edit notes for one of my friends in progress; there’s a fantasy book I’m rereading for pleasure; I’m also reading a book about the Bible (its origin and history); and I’m reading a steampunk fantasy that I checked out from the library. However, for the past week, or so, I haven’t touched any of these projects much (and I really must read a number of chapters o the book I’m going through for edit notes).

Recently—just the past week or so—I’ve been reading my own projects. This is in part because I’m really wanting to read something I’ve got in prework stages. Most of the reason why I’m going through all my own projects, though, is because I’m wanting a break from all the “extroverted” reading I’ve been doing.

I go through periods like this every so often. It’s a method which allows my creative mind to stew on things for my own projects, but it’s mostly a reaction to being too extroverted in my reading habits. This is something that developed as I recovered from being wrongly-medicated under the misdiagnosis of schizophrenia. I used to be almost-all extroverted in my reading, going through literally six to eight books a month, depending upon length. This was before the Navy and my breakdown. I checked out tons of books from the local library system, bought even more books, and, when I wasn’t writing, read to my heart’s content.

These days, my heart is content with quite a bit less such reading. I finish maybe two to three books by other people a month, frequently rereading things for various reasons—not just for pleasure, in other words. Often I’ll reread something to study how an author handled a particular scene or technical issue in their work to try and emulate in my own writing; most often, I’m looking for how an author handled character emotions.

But lately I’ve been reading more for pleasure. More books that are new to me, in genres outside of my current favorites. I’m rediscovering a love for mysteries, for one. The book about the Bible is one I’ve had for years and read way back when I first became Catholic; I’ve forgotten most of what it had to say, though, so I wanted to refresh my memory because if I stay with the Episcopal church, I plan on getting the version of the Bible it uses and reading through it so I’m familiar with the reasoning they’ve put into the Bible. I need to finish the steampunk mystery I checked out from the library before, I think, the 28th, because that’s when it must go back—I don’t have any more renewals on it.

Generally, I step away from my computer, tuck myself on my sofa, and read with my legs stretched out on the seat, pillows propping my knees and the book/device I’m reading from on my lap. I do this because I spend way too much time at my computer each day, and it’s a nice break. I put my headphones on, situate, if I wish, my home and cell phones nearby—a rarity for me because I generally ignore them when I’m reading (or actively putting words down)—and get lost in whatever book I’m reading.

I have learned not to put my own completed books on my ereader, though. If given an opportunity, I will read those instead of new books, so I don’t add them any more, not even for edit passes. This is another reason why I physically move away from the computer. Sometimes I read, usually from my ereader, while sitting at my desk, but not often. Generally, me at my desk is for online social time, writing, or reading my own works—mostly writing and socializing, to be honest.

One thing I never do is read in my bed here at home. It interferes with my sleep. I may do it if I’m stuck at the hospital overnight, but I’m usually so exhausted by whatever I’ve undergone there (typically some sort of surgical procedure), reading doesn’t affect me too much. But at home, my bedroom is mainly for sleeping, and I do little besides sleep at night, nap during the day, and spend a few odd moments dressing/undressing before/after bed and showers there. My bedroom is a sanctuary from the stresses of the real world, including reading, which, while not usually stressful, is definitely something I don’t want to associate with my bedroom.