According to Wikipedia, there are over 915 million ways you can assemble six 2×4 LEGO bricks. Just three such bricks can be assembled 1,060 ways. And those are just the standard 2×4 bricks. Depending on how you count them, there are thousands of unique bricks, from the flats, to the thicks, rounds, pegs, wheels, axels, etc, etc. Every time you add a new brick to your collection, you exponentially increase the myriad ways you can assemble them into something new and unique. I’ve been slowing building up “my daughters’” collection for a few years now, and the potential for what we can build is quite astounding. I’m not sure if they realize this yet…
But what I realized the other day is that reading and writing are a lot like collecting and building these bricks. Every time we read something new, we’re cramming our brains with new ideas, observations, perspectives and quirks, maybe things we’ve never considered before. We’re adding bricks to the LEGO sets in our minds. When later we sit down to write, we’re connecting those idea bricks, those “brain legos”, into a new combination that hopefully no one has yet seen. And the more we read, the more bricks we add, the more interesting combinations we can make. Maybe we can connect two ideas that no one has connected before, portray a classic idea in a fresh way, or lend a new perspective to an old topic. (Or maybe we’ll just dole out the same hackneyed crap we’ve seen for the last hundred years, but hopefully not).
And the center point of that is that we need to read. This is why I goal myself 20 books a year. This is why I lament not reading more quickly. But that applies not only to writing. Any creator, any producer needs to consume ideas, from books, art, designs, and performances. We add new ideas to our building bricks, because that’s where humanity thrives. We inspire one another. We build upon one another’s ideas, and as a whole, we improve all our lots.
So, yeah. Read more. Add those bricks. Make those connections. Show us something new. Make us nod, crack that half smile, and say, “Huh. Yeah. That was pretty clever. I hadn’t thought of that. Nicely done.”