Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Stealing Time to Read

burglar street artLife moves fast. Your days are busy, and by the time the sun sets you’re pretty damn near to exhausted. Finding time to read for leisure can be a challenge. Sometimes, it can feel like an impossible task. But, it isn’t.

Almost five years ago, I wrote a post here called Audio Books Are Not Cheating. Just this past weekend, I shared a new “bite-sized” reading app called tapas. Audio books and mobile reading are two ways easily to fit more reading into the nooks and crannies of your day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love curling up on the sofa with a “real” book and a steaming mug of herbal tea laced with honey (and sometimes something a little stronger). As someone who works from home, I often find myself looking longingly at my favorite corner among the cushions and pillows as I walk from desk to kitchen and back again. I would love to spend a few hours lost in the pages of a good read.

BUT … my Real Life has been a little too hectic to accommodate such pleasures lately. It’s all good. I’m not complaining. I know I’ll enjoy long reads again soon, but for now I have to make do with “snackable” reads like Audible and tapas. The truth is, your day is filled with opportunities to read a little of this or a little of that. Here are just a few of the times that I “steal” to feed my reading habit:

I read on tapas while:

  • My computer is booting up
  • My computer recovers from the spinning pinwheel of death
  • I’m on hold, waiting for a conference call to begin
  • I’m waiting in the car to pick my daughter up from school/dance/any other location
  • I’m standing in line at the bank
  • I’m waiting for a drawbridge to close

I listen on Audible while I:

  • Vacuum
  • Unload groceries
  • Walk
  • Drive
  • Shower
  • Make dinner
  • Fold laundry
  • Feed the cats

You get the idea. Any pinch of time can be reading time. You don’t need the couch or the tea or even to be sitting down. You can make any time storytime. And although I won’t deny that there’s something especially delicious about carving out large chunks of a day to hide away with a book, stealing your story in bits and pieces can also be quite pleasurable. Give it a try. Or, if you have your own tips for stealing reading time, let us know in the comments – we’re always looking for new ways to fit more reading in!

Author Note: As Simon pointed out in the comments, Audible is not a free service. I happen to love owning my audio books so I don’t have to rush to get through them and so I can re-listen. I do know, however, that many libraries now offer audio books as part of their lending collection. It’s something I’ve been meaning to look into myself. 

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition – a long-form post on writing and the writing life – and/or introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
Photo Credit: Darwin Bell via Compfight cc

44 thoughts on “Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Stealing Time to Read

  1. I do the same but sometimes It feels like I have bombarded my senses and even a tic feels like overwhelming sound. However, here is what I have realised, apart from reading, writing, re-writing on various projects what a writer must do in this day and age, is that he/she must meditate to clear out the spaces.

  2. Love this! I have an hour in the car everyday so that’s when I listen to books. And occasionally still under the covers at night when I should be sleeping!

    • I love to listen in the car. In fact, although I don’t really enjoy driving much, a good book can make me look for excuses to get behind the wheel! 😉

      (Kudos to you for reading under the covers! That’s the best!)

  3. I do all these things, too, to get some reading in. I also glance at my Kindle now and then while at work at my cash register (I’m worse than the kids sneaking glances at their phones). But serious readers have to do what they have to do.

    • I’m still exploring tapas, but really enjoying it so far. Love to hear what you think if you decide to check it out! 🙂

  4. There is not enough time in the day. I actually had been reading a book when I go to church. No, not during preaching. I read while I am waiting on the other people in my Sunday School class gets in. I also had been listening to audiobooks, but lately I haven’t been.

    • I don’t often read biographies, but now I feel like I should try a few. Hmmm … interesting. Do you have a favorite?

  5. I just finished a book the other day that had been published in the nineties. The author predicted that audio books would be a “flash in the pan!” Whoops!

    Your post is a great reminder of how wonderful the listening experience can be, even if its for fifteen minutes. I totally agree. Good advice…and timely!

    • I used to listen to books on tape when I was a kid. I had a copy of the BBC production of the Lord of the Rings (which I now own on CD and should buy as a digital file), and a very battered copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I listened to both series so much that I wore out the tapes. I can still quote passages from memory! And now, with the ease and convenience of digital audio, I devour MANY books this way. 🙂

      Flash in the pan! Ha!

    • I really enjoy them. Having a book read to you brings a whole new dimension to the experience. There are some I listen to over and over and they feel like visiting with an old friend. 🙂

  6. I need to do this – I’ve not tried audiable as it’s quite expensive, but it means I could listen to a book while I drive to work I guess. You’re someone that definitely fills their day right up with somethign useful or meaningful.
    I like your last line “I don’t bite… usually” I often say that.

    • Thanks for pointing out that Audible can be expensive. I added a note to the post about the fact that many libraries now loan audio books. I need to learn how to do this so I can limit my spending!

      I’m glad you can relate to the “I don’t bite” line. Some people, I’m sure, find that odd; but that’s okay. I am a little odd. 😉

      • I looked at audiable and I couldn’t justify that cost for a striaght out book. A lending service would be good, apparently Spotify do have some audio books, but I haven’t found any yet.
        Of course I can relate to the don’t bite bit – Being odd is the best way to be! 🙂

  7. Hi, Jamie! I am a book addict. If I am not reading something — usually more than one book at a time — I feel crazy. My confession: I read in the bathroom. Or when I am eating alone. Since I don’t have a book with me at work, I am sitting at the computer reading blog posts while I eat. When I get into my car this afternoon, I will be listening to a book via OverDrive (free books from the library!). When I get home and steal a few minutes (yes, perhaps in the bathroom or while stirring a pan of food on the stove), I will open my Kindle (free books from the library too!) and find myself in a different place for awhile. On Saturdays, when I’m doing my cleaning, I’ll listen to books. It helps me get the mundane done without pain. I love to read. 🙂 Fun post!

    • I’m right with you, Sara! 🙂
      I also often read while I’m eating. In fact, sometimes the allure of my book is the only thing that makes me stop long enough to have lunch!

      Thanks for bringing up OverDrive. I amended the post to include a note about the fact that many libraries now loan audio books – great tip!

      Happy reading & happy listening!

  8. I’ve tried to do the audio book thing but I have found myself drifting away from the story into my own thoughts and the book just becomes so much more background noise that I don’t even realize I’ve done it. Sadly, the same is true when I read… Ok, so I might have a problem.

    • I haven’t experimented much with voice technologies for writing. I record the occasional voice memo to capture an idea while driving, but for actual writing-writing … haven’t tried that yet. Maybe I will!

  9. Pingback: How to steal time to read [stole this one] – rockpapercopy

  10. Pingback: Writing Links Round Up 8/29-9/3 – B. Shaun Smith

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