I was a creative kid.

I was the kind of kid who would enter art contests, writing contests, and write fanfiction in my spare time. I was the kid who would spend more time day-dreaming than do anything productive in my life. I loved making new things and coming up with original ideas.

But as I got older…..the magic began to disappear as well….I no longer daydreamed. I no longer imagined. The creative juices that made me…..ME faded.

It comes with the mess of life. When you have a lot more school. A lot more work. Bigger aspirations. And a ton of random things on your plate calling for your attention at all times.

All those things got to me. I also got a phone. Constantly stuck on my phone. Constantly checking emails, notifications, texts. Didn’t leave much room to grow and learn.

But one big thing that dramatically shifted from child Sydney to Sydney today: I stopped reading.

As a kid, I read EVERYTHING. The library was like a second home to me. I spent so much time reading that the principal of my elementary school called me into the office, accusing me of lying about how much I read.

I don’t know if that directly influenced my ability to read. But it sure felt like it.

Today, I read a lot more. I listen to audiobooks when I cook and run.

And I read poetry, fanfiction, and funny stories before I sleep every night.

It was slow…..but the magic is starting to come back. I can’t attribute it all to reading. I changed a lot of life habits in the last 6 months, from exercise to eating to reading, but reading certainly played a role in it.

I’m a co-founder of a short story site called Commaful, but I didn’t start it to try to solve my imagination issue. In fact, it wasn’t even made to be for short stories initially. Initially, it was all thought pieces by people in tech. But the site evolved. In some ways, the evolution happened out of my control.

And I’m glad it did. It solved a big life problem that I was struggling with and helped me fall in love with reading and writing again. Our writers share such amazing work that really stretches my mind and imagination. Through the process, I’ve also learned so much about writing from things like handling exposition to understanding story structures like the hero’s journey.

As I reflect more on it, I think what helps my imagination so much from reading is the huge variety of worlds that I got exposed to. For example, have you heard of phanfiction? No, not fanfiction, I actually spelled that right. It’s a pair of YouTubers that has a HUGE group of people writing fanfic about. Whole world that I knew nothing about initially. Or roleplaying? People apparently right role play stories on sites like Quotev¬†and it’s a big deal.

Getting exposure to so many crazy and different ideas helped me swim in new worlds in my head and helps me come up with new ideas.

Most importantly, it makes me a happier person.

So what’s my conclusion? Read every day. Read things you love. Not what you’re expected to read. Read everywhere. Perhaps it’s reading books on Bubblin. Maybe you’re going to the library. Or maybe you’re using a Little Free Library. Just start reading.

You’ll notice the difference. Trust me.