Just Read!

Just Read!

  • Carry a magazine with you at all times.
  • Keep a book in your car.
  • Tuck a paperback into your messenger bag.
  • Load a library onto your Kindle – and fire it up instead of checking your phone!

Too much screen time!

Just Read!

I’m not the only one checking my cell phone like a nervous tic.

I’m trying this technique myself, because I find myself checking my phone like a nervous tic, and if I see a new email or a new headline, I fall into the black hole of cyberspace. Poof! My time to read evaporates, and it’s time for bed.

Instead of reading print on a page in a chair by the fire before retiring, I pollute myself with screen time. Even if there’s no new message from a friend or no new headline to upset me, the light itself is known to disrupt sleep. In my case, I’m also cranky for having squandered the time I’d planned to read, and for not reading.

Advice to writers: “Just read!”

As writers, we’re told, “Just read!” as a way to learn craft, study style, examine structure, and gather facts. Reading other people’s stories helps us tell our own, whether our stories are invented, factual, remembered, retold, or some combination thereof.

Technology changes, but our human need for stories does not.

Humans are a narrative species. We used to tell stories around a fire; then we heard them in the marketplace and in the cathedrals. Eventually, we learned to write and read. Drama, film and TV tell stories through acting. These days, stories are lost in email and stunted in social media. Our time to read at length grows short.

I love to read; I have to plan time to do it.

As a writer, I’m a glutton for words, most of which I get from print on a page. So I’m starting a new campaign to increase my reading time. I’m going to keep prose on hand wherever I go, so when I have a moment of “downtime,” I can “Just Read!” instead of reflexively checking my phone.

How do you make time to read?

Deborah Lee LuskinDeborah Lee Luskin reads and writes in southern Vermont, where Into the Wilderness, her critically acclaimed story of love in middle age, is set.

15 thoughts on “Just Read!

  1. I don’t have an iphone. I have a Kindle instead. At my job as a cashier, while the kids are checking their phones during downtime, I’m reading my Kindle. I’m determined never to have one of those infernal machines, just a Trac phone without internet in case I need to make a phone call.

  2. I love this post. Lately, I’ve been so involved in learning about marketing my forthcoming story for kids that I’ve lost touch with reading. The sentiments in this post are inspiring. Kudos and cheers.

    • Yes, I threw myself into marketing my novel, which definitely helped sales but was just as clearly not a healthy choice for my soul. I hope you can maintain a balance between the marketplace and your health in all its dimensions.

  3. And read with your children, or the children in your life. My daughters (aged 8 and 9) and I have made a commitment at the start of this school year to read together every day, either an hour after lunch or before we go to bed. Sometimes we all read our own books, silently, but sitting together, and other times we take turns reading to each other from the same or different books. It’s a time of bonding and of winding down either after a hectic school day or before sleep. And, given that one of my daughters has decided she wants to be a writer, she’s learning the necessary practice of becoming a good reader.

  4. Great post, Deborah. I find myself admitting that I’m glad I’m a boomer for the simple reason I grew up reading and developed a reading habit which has stayed in place…that didn’t happen with all of my peers, but it did with me…thank goodness!

    I love reading. And being an old-school guy, I never developed a real connection with my I phone. I like it, but it usually stays in one place and that’s it. I think I read more in the cool months than in summer. If I have a real page turner, I’ll read all day long, but if it’s a slow book then I usually read in the evening and night time. We don’t have television, so my wife and I often find ourselves on the couch reading in the evening. It’s wonderful. And we both always, always read before going to sleep. I read poetry, and my wife reads Japanese novels.

    Thank you for this interesting post.

    • Thanks for this lovely description of your reading life, Paul.
      Like you, my husband and I don’t have TV. He’s very good about coming home and unplugging to read. I’ve fallen into the habit of allowing myself to be distracted by email, news and an on-going game of Lexulous. Happily, the combination of rain and research is allowing me to spend snug time reading as part of my current writing project, and there’s carry-over to reading when I return to the house for the evening. All best, Deborah.

  5. I was thinking this just other day. I was lamenting on how few books I’ve read this year… as I was staring at my phone nonetheless! I used to carry a book with my everywhere, then that safety blanket (as my friends jokingly called it) was replace with my phone. But I think I’m going to take you advice and go back to carry a book instead!

  6. A very enthusiastic and inspiring note. Thank you for fueling up my passion for reading. I never noticed that with passing time, my reading time was replaced with the screen-time. Now, after reading your words, I’m moving back to my first love, reading.

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