Simple Ways to Spend More Time Reading

A few years back I decided to make a conscious effort to revisit reading for pleasure. It’s a hobby that I’ve always enjoyed but was getting more difficult to prioritize as I grew older. I started thinking about the obstacles (both real and imagined) that prevented me from spending more time doing my favourite hobby. Most of my friends who read have similar complaints like, how do you find the time? Here’s some suggestions- some I’ve incorporated into my own routine, and some I think might help others, too.

If you can’t find the time…

  • Read during your commute. It’s a lot more fun than staring out into space. (Do not do this if you’re the one driving.)
  • Bring a book to read while waiting for an appointment, meeting or class to start. Also, make sure you have one nearby any time a call is on hold.
  • I keep a book in the kitchen for those in-between times when I’m waiting for the oven to preheat, the kettle to boil, or the coffee to brew.
  • Use your time at the Laundromat wisely by bringing a book, or treat your building’s laundry room like one so you can snag some quality reading time.
  • Read at work: during your coffee break, your lunch break, or if you’re waiting around. That is, provided all of your work is done and you’re doing it discreetly. Again, the key is discreetly. (And no, you cannot tell your boss I told you that.)

If you’re looking to make the time…

  • Consider cutting down on your screen time. I think twice before picking up any electronics- do I really want to play a fifth round of Candy Crush, or do I want to read?
  • Now cut down your other screen times as well. How many minutes do you lose every day browsing Netflix or turning on a show for the sake of just watching something? I limited my TV intake and now use that borrowed time to pick up my book instead.
  • Make it part of your routine. I try to read for an hour before bed every night, but you may want to read a few minutes every morning, or set rules for a family reading hour on a weekly basis.

The second biggest obstacle that I came across were reading ruts- you know, when you just can’t get excited about the book you’re reading. Sometimes I’d read a few ho-hum books in a row and think, what’s the point? Or I’d read tearjerkers back-to-back that left me emotionally drained and unmotivated to pick up something new. Here are some ways to snap out of it:

If you’re looking for motivation…

  • Tracking the books I read on Goodreads has really helped motivate me. I like being able to set myself challenges, and checking in with friends to see how they’re doing with theirs.
  • Join a book club, go to a book lecture, or attend a reading by your favorite author.

If you’re looking for a new approach…

  • Turn to reading as a coping mechanism. If I feel myself starting to unravel from stress or anxiety, I’ll give myself a time out to read a few pages until I calm down.
  • Make it portable. I’m not a huge fan of e-readers but if you’re looking for a way to incorporate more reading into your routine this format may be way more convenient. No more toting around giant books on the subway!
  • Try something new. There are so many books out there about virtually everything under the sun- you’re bound to find something that piques your interest. A new genre or author just might inspire your love of reading all over again.

Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.

Great Readers Make Great Writers

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This post goes out to those poor souls attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge this month! (That’s National Novel Writing Month if you’re not in the know, and you can find out more about it here.)

There’s this old adage about great readers making great writers, and like most old adages, I find this one to be true. (Hence the title of this post.)

Reading and writing are kind of like bread and butter. (Unless you can think of a more G-free metaphor-peanut butter and jelly?) The more authors, genres and styles you experience as a reader can help you develop your own voice and spark your own creativity.

I’m the kind of reader that has to read absolutely everything (okay, maybe there are some exceptions). As a writer, too, it comes as no surprise that a book about writing finds its way onto my bookshelves. In many ways, I find reading about writing oddly inspiring and- dare I say it- helpful to me as a writer. Here are some of the titles that have stood out:

Writing can be an isolating activity and if you don’t have a fellow scribe to talk to it can start to feel a little lonely. Natalie Goldberg, critically-acclaimed writer, poet and teacher has written a lovely little collection of thoughts and stories about writing called Writing Down the Bones that feels more like a series of letters to fellow writers than it does a book. As such, don’t be afraid to read this book in an untraditional way- it’s the kind of book you stash on your shelf and revisit from time to time, picking a selection at random whenever you’re looking for inspiration or just a chance to connect with someone who knows what you’re going through. At the end, you’ve kind of feel like you’ve made a new friend.

Even if you’re not a fan of chick lit, you may be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel by Cathy Yardley. Aspiring fiction authors everywhere will get a kick at exploring the major story themes and character archetypes of the genre, and it provides fascinating insight into the minds of the writers and publishers who have the chick lit novel down to a fine science.

If you’re looking to unlock your creativity, the legendary book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron may be a good way to start. It’s not necessarily just about writing, although many of the exercises included are designed to help you develop your craft. Instead, The Artist’s Way is about finding a way to express the creativity that Cameron believes is locked inside each of us, no matter which art form you choose. The goal here is not to become a famous author but to find a way to express yourself without fear, anxiety or guilt.

If you feel like your ideas and voice are developed, but you’re struggling with cultivating a writing routine, then How to Write a Lot by Paul J. Silva is for you. Originally conceived with the academic writer in mind, I still found this book an extremely practical guide for incorporating writing into your everyday routine, plus it has some great tips for getting those creative juices flowing.

Finally, if you don’t know where to start, I suggest starting at the beginning with a copy of Three Genres by Stephen Minot. It’s the quintessential guide to- you guessed it- the three genres of writing: prose, poetry and plays. Pick your favorite section to get a crash course, or read the whole thing from cover to cover to gain a better understanding of story structure and language. I loved this textbook so much in high school I almost stole it when I graduated. That’s how invaluable it was to me!

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And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t give an honorable mention to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. (I gush all about it here, if you’re interested.) It’s not necessarily about writing, or for writers, but it was an important reminder for me to keep on creating for the sake of my own joy and self-expression.

Happy reading and writing!

B

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What are some of the books that have helped you in your writing process? I’d love to know! Comment below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and I may include your suggestions in an updated version of this post!

I love to read and I love sharing my favorite books with you. (For more reading inspiration click here or here.) Don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads either! Btw: These lists are totally my own creation and I was not paid or perked to share my opinions with you by any author or publishing company.