Sunday, December 4, 2011

Creativity, Reading, and Eye-Strain

Well, now I've done it.
I've got eye-strain and it hurts like hell. Every time I so much as blink, it feels as though I've been lifting weights with my eyelids at the gym, and I forgot to do stretches afterwards. For me eye-strain is probably one of the top health hazards of being a writer. Normally it isn't an issue, but during weeks like this one -- late nights reading and editing articles, working 10 hour days at the computer, and spending my entire day off reading "The Painted Boy" by Charles De Lint -- usually leads to me walking up looking like I've had a stroke or something.

What's the cure? Well, usually time. Plus some eye exercises and lots of breaks away from the computer. Going for walks and focusing on trees and buildings in the distance usually helps. Also, taking a break from reading novels often does the trick, too.

It's painful to stop reading though, isn't it? -- especially when you are currently enthralled in the characters, the world, the language of a particularly good book. Julia Cameron, author of "The Artist's Way", actually recommends that writers and artists take time away from reading books. It's part of the process of breaking through creative blocks and unleashing potential. Television, books, news, articles, friends -- we are always TAKING IN information and ideas.

According to Julia Cameron,  we should stop stuffing our heads full of 'stuff' for at least a week, and get quiet and real to the voices, the fluxes, the ebbs of our inner selves. That is where our creativity is. That is where our art comes from. From the well inside of our hearts -- and if we plunge into it -- like the protagonist in the Grimm's fairy-tale "Mother Holle" -- we find another world, entirely different to the one we live in everyday, with its own magic, hardship and journeying.

Perhaps my body is telling me something.

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