Does Reading (too much) Stifle My Creativity?

This strange thought came to me Sunday morning while I was meditating. I have always been an avid reader. Mysteries and historical fiction make up the bulk of my recreational reading. But I enjoy research reading. Marketing. Health. Travel. Photography techniques. Photoshop tutorials. Cookbooks. All have been great areas of interest that can consume many hours of my day.

What is the result of all of this reading?

Until this morning, I  assumed that I was feeding my core knowledge base . I believed that general knowledge was the purpose and end all of my relationship with the written word. I might be a better conversationalist in social settings. I might be a better informed voter. Reading was not enough to make me a better photographer or healthier person, but it gave me a better foundation for what ever followed.

Reading has frequently been a means of escape from my day to day life.

I realized this even as a child. I usually preferred the company of books to that of people. I am easily lost in the worlds that authors create. I am easily disappointed by these who fail to create a world in which I do not fit. Romance novels exclude me. Science fiction and fantasy usually exclude me, though I am an great fan of Harry Potter, Douglas Adams and several incarnations of Dr. Who. When I pick up a book, I want to fall into the Alice’s Wonderland. Rationally, I recognize that is not feasible or even desirable, but it is my hope.

Back to my original thought. What does reading do to my own creative process? 

Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. — Albert Einstein

My photography lacked the artistry I desired because I documented rather than created.

There was a time that I fancied myself writing mystery novels. Loved the research but could not write anything that I found interesting enough to read. In hindsight, I think I  was so accustomed to being fed my mysteries that I never nurtured my own curiosity and imagination enough to create those worlds I so enjoyed visiting in books written by others.

The writing that I do today is introspective. Probably as a function of my age, time of of life, and decision to live alone, I allow myself the time to meander through my mind. I don’t have many deadlines to meet. I do have many life experiences to compare with current events. I do take the time to think. (Some may call it day dreaming.)

  • But should I be taking MORE time to think?
  • Should I take MORE time to write or photograph or create in whatever medium?
  • Am I using reading as a self imposed barrier to to creating?
  • Is it possible to read too much?
  • Have I become a lazy thinker?

Questions worth thinking about. I wonder if there is a book I should read about thinking and reading…

One thought on “Does Reading (too much) Stifle My Creativity?

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-201">

    HI Tammie,
    It will be great when you notice how much you enjoy whatever you ARE doing vs “shoulding” on yourself and thinking about what you are NOT. You always have a choice to switch . . . What I wish for you is for you to Lead your life intentionally . . . reading what brings joy to your heart, writing for your own self, or creating visually appealing photography in your own eyes!

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