What is the one piece of advice you see consistently in interviews with well known writers? Read. It seems obvious really, by reading we see examples of words well chosen or stories poorly crafted. Both are integrated into our thought patterns so that when we pick up a pen or settle in at the keyboard, the work we generate is influenced hopefully for the better by what we have read.
For the professional writer, there is more to it, hobbyists may write to capture their thoughts, or preserve family history, but If you are writing professionally, you want people to read your work. In the spirit of what goes around, comes around, if we want to be read, we need to read.
Like most of the writers I know, I enjoy reading. I enjoy cooking and exercising too, but lets face it, some days are so crammed with work and life, that dinner comes from a cardboard box and making time to walk the mailbox is a stretch. Finding time to curl up with a good book is out of the question. Still, no matter how many tasks I knock off my to do list, if I haven’t found at least 5 minutes to read something other than my email, the day feels incomplete. That said, I can be a little “ahem” obsessive when I get into a book, so I often hesitate to even start one. Here are a few ways you can incorporate reading into your daily routine.
Read Blogs You are here, so give yourself a pat on the back. The upside to blogs is that they are usually short and sweet. You can subscribe via RSS feeds, so that you are notified of new entries.
Subscribe to a Magazine. The operative word in that heading is a. I have a friend who ended her subscription to all magazine because she said the piles of back issues taunted her. Pick one, just one magazine. Most are monthly. Leave it in your car, by your desk or your night stand. Commit to reading one article a day or if you need to start slowly, one page a day.
Short Story or Essay Collections These are perfect for when I have a brief respite, but don’t want to get fully involved in a book.
E-books I have Amazon’s Kindle App on my iPhone and I have a Kindle. With an e-book reader I have reading material right at my finger tips, so when life’s little delays make an appearance I can consume a few hundreds words.
Read to your kids. Share a classic, or read what they are currently reading. Along with expanding horizons (yours and theirs), it provides you with time to connect.
Be a Volunteer Reader The ultimate double word score! Volunteer your time to read to an elderly person, or blind student. Contact your local elder service agency or university to see how you can help. Alternately, checkout Bookshare.org or RFBD.org.
I haven’t really covered any new ground with this post, but hopefully, I’ve offered a gentle reminder or perhaps the necessary justification for you to pick up the nearest printed word and get reading.