If you do creative work, you need to read fiction books.
When we need inspiration, we usually hit Dribbble, Pinterest, Designspiration, Behance, etc. I'd say that something we should do to keep ourselves sharp as creators is to read fiction. Here's why:
1. You'll exercise your imagination
It's no secret that we tend to lose our imaginations as we grow up so we need to do things that kindle that fire. According to Robert Bruce, fiction "works out" a different area of your brain.
2. You'll practice creating
How often do you get to create something that's just for you? No strings attached. No deadline to worry about. No money on the table for it. No critique. That's what your mind is doing when you read fiction. There's nothing quite like envisioning the landscape of a new world or imagining what a character looks in your mind.
3. You'll be better
The first two reasons combined will make you better at what you do. Designer, writer, photographer, whatever. You'll discover new ways of looking at things. Take for instance these five things Robert Bruce learned about writing.
You may not learn the same things when you read, and that's okay. But it could be the catalyst that leads to you creating something great or getting unstuck.
One study even suggests that fiction readers are more creative, exercise better judgement, and are more comfortable with disorder and uncertainty.
How Do I Get Started?
Austin Kleon has some great advice:
Robert Bruce also has some good advice about how you can make more time to read.
What I'm Doing
I decided to start reading more fiction toward the end of last year. I've always wanted to read The Chronicles of Narnia series so I bought a cheap used copy on eBay and started there. Before the year ended I made it through The Magician's Nephew and absolutely loved the book. So this year I decided to set a goal for myself: read at least 26 books in 2015. I'm not reading all fiction. To see my full book list and check out my progress click here. Here's what's on the fiction (or reading for pleasure) section of my list in no particular order:
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
- The Horse & His Boy by CS Lewis
- Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
- The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
- The Last Battle by CS Lewis
- The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
- All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power by Nomi Prins
- The Circle by Dave Eggers
- A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
- U.S.!: Songs and Stories by Chris Bachelder
- Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
- Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Replay by Neil Grimwood
- Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
If you have any recommendations of books I should consider adding to my list, let me know in a comment.