11 Tips to Get You Reading More

11 tips to reading more

I recently realised that I’m not reading as much as I would like. It was a sad realisation that I had taken nearly two weeks with my current book and I wasn’t even near the middle yet.

I have been focused on my own writing projects of late and then falling into bed. But I miss other people’s writing and tv doesn’t count.

So after some research in how to find more reading time, or at least make some, I have come up with the following list:

 

  1. Book a regular reading time

Block it out in your diary or plan to read the same time every day, like 15 min before bed.

 

  1. Read what you want to read and not what you think you should.

There is a whole world of classics that everyone says you should read but if you aren’t enjoying the book the whole process is slowed down (part of my current reading problem). There are too many books and not enough time. If you aren’t enjoying it, put it down, pick up another.

 

  1. Try a book group or club

This way you need to finish a book by the deadline to discuss it. A little pressure can help sometimes. If you don’t like the idea of meeting up with a group of strangers pull a group of your friends together and create your own.

 

  1. Join a review group

Similarly to point #3, deadlines help. The pressure of promising a review can ensure you make the time to read.

 

  1. Read more than one book at a time

I don’t like this idea unless you were reading fiction/non fiction. Maybe reading different books at different times – fiction before bed, non-fiction on the trip to work

 

  1. Read across digital devices

I love this; that my phone will remember where I left off on my kindle last night. And then when I snuggle into bed with the Kindle, it picks up where I left off on my phone.

 

  1. Set a reading goal

Set yourself a challenge. You can use Goodreads to track how you are going. This is something I use to do but haven’t in a while and when I signed up to Goodreads I was too scared to pick a number. Time to add some pressure.

 

  1. Squeeze in two minutes

Lunch time, morning tea, advert breaks on the tv ( I did this recently when I switched from Netflix back to live tv and forgot just how long the ad breaks were!). Using digital devices can help with this (point #6). I often catch up on a chapter while waiting for my travelling buddy when heading to off-site meetings.

 

  1. Catch the bus or train to work.

Long journeys are a great opportunity to read. If public transport is out, take a long drive and let someone else do the driving.

 

  1. For those driving try Audio books.

Or while you are doing the ironing. I haven’t tried this yet, but mostly because I would love to listen in the car and I’m sure my daughter would talk through it or switch it off. I’m also looking into this option for future publishing options.

 

  1. Have fun!

This is the most important one on the list – enjoy the opportunity to disappear into another world.

 

What to do when you’re not writing

When not writing begets not writing
Poor Orange Snoopy was too unwell to write too

Over the last few weeks I’ve been a bit worn out, to the point that my writing slowed right down and I spent far too much time beating myself up. Then I became so ill I was trapped in my bed for a week and there was nothing I could do about it.

It is really hard when you can’t write. Particularly when all you want to do is write.

Sometimes we need to take a break. And I can tell you I’m feeling much better for it, even if it was a forced break, despite being well behind in all my projects and even unable to post last week.

 

So, when I couldn’t write, what was I doing?

Firstly, I was sleeping because when you are sickly and run down that is the best way to recharge the batteries.

Secondly, when I could, I was reading. Not as much as I would have liked but more than I have had the chance to over the last few months. You can learn a lot from other people’s writing, not just entertainment and escapism (which are the main reasons I read).

Asking questions about what I have read helps to strengthen my own writing:

  • Why did I enjoy the book?
  • What was it about the characters that hooked me?
  • Why didn’t I like it?
  • Why did that scene/character/event frustrate/annoy/elate me?

In understanding what works or what doesn’t in other’s writing can only help.

I have also been reading more indie published books to see what others are doing and how well that appears to work.

 

When not doing sleeping or reading I was stretched out on the couch watching (binging on) a range of series and movies.

I love TV as it gives a very different story telling experience. Obviously it is much more visual. The setting jumps from the screen and slightest inflections by characters are very effective. I love these little visual clues and it is important to remember to include the details when writing.

One series I watched was based in China during the late 1700’s. The setting was amazing and I got a few ideas from the society and palace design for future stories.

 

I am more or less back to normal now, whatever normal might be. I’m watching my energy levels closely to ensure I don’t go downhill again. But the time out has given me the confidence that as frustrating as it was that I couldn’t write I was still able to feed my creative side and the muse continued to work away.

When do we get time to do the other stuff?

read meThere seems to be such a long list of things I want to do or would like to do. Things we are guided to do by other writers, authors and bloggers. We also read heaps about sacrifices. But between writing and editing, drafting and planning, parenting, the day job and sleeping there is still so much I’m not getting done.

It is reading newsletters and other blogs that I’m particularly missing at the moment. There are so many emails unopened with other people’s news that I’m desperate to read. Even twitter I’m only glancing at 10 min worth of tweets a day and responding to follows but I’m not spending the time to share my thoughts or what I’m doing.

So do I sacrifice some of my writing time or parenting time? Or do I cut back the newsletters and not bother to try to read all this info?

And I haven’t even mentioned the books I’ve downloaded or are stacked up beside my bed. *aagghh*

I’m also not sleeping as well as I was. Not sure if that is the new house or how full my head is when I lay it down. But I’m not reading before I sleep either. It wasn’t so long ago that it didn’t matter how tired I was I would read at least a page before sleep. I wonder if I tried it would help in other ways as well.

My whole life seems to be highly planned out right now but I’m not achieving. Even though I tend to work better when I’m busy.

Maybe it is more a matter of timing, rather than sacrificing.

That down time of an evening when I usually switch my brain off with the tv, perhaps I should be reading instead. I can scan my emails and if an article looks interesting then I can take the time to read it.

My aim for this week is to accept the work load and get on with it and switch the tv for reading to relax at the end of each day. And then I get my newsletters read as well as slowing my brain down for sleep. Unless, of course, the reading inspires me to sit up ‘til 3am writing. But that could only be a good thing.

How does your timetable look?

Making time to read

494px-Lavery_Maiss_Auras

This year I want to read more. Reading is important for any writer and I love to read and I have a huge stack (ok several stacks) of books about my room. Just when I think I am making a dent in these piles I see something or interest, or buy another book or some kind soul lends me a book or two (or six in the case of one good friend recently).

I use to read every day but this habit slipped over the last little while now that I’m living with the parents.

And then there is the non-fiction reading – articles and blogs and books. I have a kindle app full of them, partly read. I get a swathe of articles every day in my inbox. And it can start to impact on my routine. I can happily read away but I still have other things to do, writing amongst them.

So I set time.

Putting reading on my to do list ensures it happens.

I take at least 15 minutes every night to read fiction before I sleep. More time when I have it.

Sunday mornings for all the blog articles I’m really interested in. Some I skim through and move on, others I mark and then I can take my time and fully enjoy them. I will sometimes use my lunch time for reading, but also use that time for the gym and writing, so it is usually booked up with other things, but occasionally reading is a nice break.

I discussed setting research time last week because I can easily get lost in a book. Reading beyond what you expect or planned is useful (as M commented last week). Reading an article about a female footballer (American college football) last week (and yes that was way off any track) led to an idea about my protagonist that could have been a problem that I hadn’t considered.

If you are writing around a day job (as so many of us are) the time to write, read and research is limited and I think it is essential to book time for these different parts of the writing process.

It is important to set time to (a) make sure it gets done and (b) make sure it doesn’t overtake other things on the list.

 

Image: Miss Auras by John Lavery via Wikimedia Commons.

Reader Response Theory

526px-Eastman_Johnson_-_Reading_Boy

At a recent writers group meeting one member read a short story and then we started the discussion about what we thought it meant. And it was somewhat of a surprise for some members that we each interpreted the story quite differently. One member actually felt he had not been paying attention or had misunderstood something.

But as readers (or listeners in this case) we all bring something very different to the experience. Those differences will influence how we interpret the writing. It is not a deficiency on the writer’s part (certainly not in this case) or in the reader themselves. It is just difference.

These differences can include, amongst other things:

  • Culture
  • Experience/History
  • Emotions
  • Knowledge

The short story read to the group was only 500 words and that is not a lot of words to tell a story in. My interpretation was that the character telling the story was grieving a lover. Part of the reason I considered that was because of a song playing in the background while the group member was reading. The song is a direct link to my past and an emotional tug that relates to a boy from long ago. Listening to the song in conjunction with the story affected my emotional state. Given my history and experience with the boy from long ago there appeared a connection between the lovers in the story (which it turned out the author intended).

I grew up with fairy tales and still read a lot of them and so the shimmering scales I immediately saw as mermaids, another member saw them as fish and a satiation of hunger (maybe he was hungry during our meeting).

The idea of reader response theory is that a writer only gives so much to the reading experience. That each reader will take something different from it and that there is no single meaning for a text.

At the same meeting we discussed romance novels (the steamy variety). Both men in the group could not understand the appeal at all. They labelled the unrealistic relationships as dull with no substance. I, on the other hand, love a steamy romance from time to time, for a variety of reasons. I enjoy the point of view of the other, as most alternate between the male and female point of view. Generally I think this is the female author’s idea of a perfect male partner (most of them are buff) but it is an interesting concept none-the-less; and something I have tried (in a non-romantic way) to give male and female points of view in my Raven Crown series.

I have an interest in this area because I want to create a more immersive reading experience, one in which the reader loses themselves in the story, unaware of the outside world and even the words on the page.

My aim is to create the links and provide as immersive story as I can so that no matter the background, culture, history and emotion of the reader they will find it an immersive experience. To provide that I need to be aware that each reader will take something different from my stories, and not necessarily what I intend.