As writers, we’re told that it’s fundamental to read as many books as possible–and it’s true. Reading is what makes us better writers. It teaches us how to tell genuine stories, what pitfalls to avoid, what makes for strong characterization and how to hold a reader’s attention. But since we’re doing our best to get our stories down, amid the madness of work and home and school, it can be challenging to find enough time to read as well. In fact, it can feel impossible. So, how do you add more books to your day, your week, your month, your year?
Read What You Like
This may seem obvious, but a common reason for reading slumps is simply the material. It feels like we should be reading the classics or big, long-fiction stories, or modern sagas, but that’s far from the truth. We can learn from whatever books we read, whether you like YA stories, romance, science fiction, graphic novels or anything in between.
Don’t feel like reading only counts if it’s ‘smart person’ reading. You benefit from reading regardless, so allow yourself to enjoy the material without guilt and you’ll read a whole lot more of it.
Set Your Goals
Some readers get stressed out by reading goals, but I, personally, love them. Reading goals make me feel like I’m actually reading for a reason (which I am, but I like being able to record it). When I mark off my new reads, I get the sense of satisfaction associated with completing a task, which makes it feel less like procrastination and more intentional.
With the way our world works today, it’s incredibly easy to get distracted by an app or a notification or an email. We give ourselves give minute breaks that turn into twenty-minute breaks without any actually rest or relaxation and we don’t really enjoy the time we spend not working. So commit to it. Allow yourself to take a longer break and read a chapter of your book. You’ll feel better about the break you took and you’ll actually get to read more often than you think.
Relax Before Bed
This may seem like an obvious one, but I find my instinct after a long day is to scroll through whichever feed holds my interest and then turn off the light. It’s a hard habit to break and I’m sure it disturbs my sleep patterns and bothers my eyes before bed. So work to move past your last internet search of the night and actually delve into a chapter or two. Once you get accustomed to the pattern, you’ll start to look forward to it and actually want to read more.
Audiobooks Are Your Friends
I’ve been an avid audiobook fan for more than a decade. I used to listen to them when I walked to work and to school and now I keep them on when I cook dinner or fold the laundry. It’s a brief reprieve from the day and I love the unique experience of the narrator’s take on the story. Plus, it makes doing the chores fun and allows you to get into an extra few minutes of a story every day.
Find Your Crew
Setting reading goals helps with accountability, but finding a group of people can encourage you to get excited about new books. There’s nothing better than the feeling of sharing a favorite story with someone and having them love it as much as you do. Book groups, whether online or in real life, can give us juice and fuel the passion to read and read widely.
There are myriad ways to approach reading more in your life, but it’s more important to focus on reprioritizing and giving yourself permission to enjoy what you like. Make reading the focus of your downtime or find a way to integrate into the little moments of your life, and you’ll find that it’s actually far easier than it seems. And, since good reading leads to good writing, it’s sure to become one of your favorite steps on the road to telling your next story. The only question is–what book do you start with first? ♥