Zach Weinersmith On The Importance Of Reading Books

Zach Weinersmith writes Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, my current favorite webcomic. I wanted to know: Where’s this creativity spring from?

Turns out, he reads. A lot.

I try to read 3-5 books a week in many different subjects. Whenever I stop that, I run out of ideas reaaallll fast.

When asked about his writing process:

Usually I just read a lot (at LEAST 4-6 hours a day) then sit myself in front of a blank google doc and try to write.

Or how to overcome writer’s block:

If you can’t write, read more. In my experience, writer’s block is not a condition, but a result. Lots of people seem to think they can play video games 12 hours a day, then one day happen upon a great idea. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to put in time on input if you want good output.

When someone asked how he manages to publish everyday:

I try very hard to read a lot and write a lot.

And when asked about his inspiration:

I really just try to read a lot, think a lot, then write for an hour a day. I also schedule my life a lot. So far that seems to be working all right.

On what to read:

It’s very liberating to read a book on a subject you think is boring. You might end up surprised.

I read pretttty much anything.

His broader philosophy here:

Most people tend to like what they like. I try to like things I dislike.

Why does he read so much?

Also, in general, if you’re an entertainer, you have precisely one job – be more interesting than the people you are entertaining. Otherwise why should they listen to you. That’s why if you want to improve at your work, self-cultivation is the best route.

Remember, you get paid to be more insightful than people who don’t write. That means you have to read more and think more.

He’s not the first to push the virtues of reading. Warren Buffet says his secret is “reading 500 pages a day.” Alan Kay reportedly attempts to read a book a day. Who knows how much Chomsky reads? Stephen King says, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And so on.

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