Every 'how to write' book and webpage includes the mantra that we must read. Read anything, and everything. More than that - we must read as writers.
The pages of bumf that accompanies my first MA module instruct me to read as a writer. I must keep a reading log, note down anything that excites me, or surprises me, or betrays the writer's thinking.
I've tried this before. And it's not so easy. For a start, I read in all sorts of unusual places. In bed, of course, and on the sofa in my sitting room. In the garden (on precious warm days, with the drone of bees and the smell of mown grass from next door). I can read while I'm stirring a saucepan. Read in the bath (though I rarely have time). When my children were little I would read while pushing a swing (Bad idea. Doesn't do the back any good). I read on buses and trains. Leaning against the wall by the bus stop. In cafes. In restaurants if I'm eating alone. Anywhere it is possible to hold a book. But there are too few occasions when it is also possible to hold a notebook and pen.
But that, I can see, is making excuses. So I've bought some little stickers; it is easy to slip them into a page if I notice something, and then go back later to think about it again.
Even so, I find it hard to know what it is I'm meant to be noticing. Years ago, when I tried to keep a reading log, I gave up as I found I had no idea what I was looking for, which made writing it down pointless. My MA tutor has given a list of questions, which give me notes at the moment are scrappy, and mostly meaningless; but I have a term to practise this. There are other students to bounce ideas with (when we learn to listen to each other). A tutor who might drop in a thought or two. It is, I confess, exciting. By Christmas I might have a handle on what reading like a writer looks like - and feels like.
Unless, of course, any of you know better - are there short-cuts? Codes? An alternative to this try-it-and-see method? (Helping me out is not cheating - it's just helping!)