Many writers were avid readers as kids, reading book after book, perhaps even impressing the teachers at school. It was easy, back then, to find time to read. The days seemed longer, somehow, and there was always more than enough time to go to school, play with friends, have dinner, watch TV, fight with our siblings, and then squeeze in some reading time, too. There was even time to be bored! There is no scientific explanation to why this is, but most would agree that as an adult – there simply isn’t as much free time, and as such it isn’t unusual that we find ourselves reading much less than we used to, or want to.
There is always work waiting to be done, a house that needs to be cleaned, an outing with friends we haven’t seen in a while, a dog that needs to be walked, and maybe even children that need looking after, and it can seem impossible to find time to sit down and open a book.
Importance of Creating Reading Opportunities
The opportunity might not present itself as often as it did when we were younger, so it becomes essential to set time aside for reading, even when we feel we might not have enough to spare. It is our responsibility as literature lovers, writers, and propagators of the industry, to make sure reading stays an active part of our adult lives, and while it can sometimes require a bit of extra effort – it is worth it.
Reading is crucial for a writer, both to develop writing skills and to enrich vocabulary, but also for inspiration. While it might seem like reading someone else’s work would take away from the time we might have otherwise used for our own writing, it is likely to instead further motivate us to sit down and create something of our own.
Reading is not only important for writers, but it is a great way to disconnect from reality for a moment, and from technology, and to just put our imagination to work. In today’s society, where we are growing accustomed to having information fed to us through imagery, reading is a much-needed contrast.
How to Do It
As much as this may have been said: to stop making excuses is the first step. Just because we feel like there isn’t enough time in our days to read, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true. How much time do we waste looking aimlessly at our phones? Scrolling fruitlessly down that Facebook timeline? How much time do we burn just choosing what series to watch on Netflix? The opportunities are there, and it is just up to us to seize them. It doesn’t have to be difficult to read, or time consuming! It is all about utlising time that’s already there.
Bring a book for that long commute to work. Take that time on the bus, on the train or on the underground to read, rather than spending it staring at your phone.
Read before bed, every night. It’s okay if it’s only one page, five pages, or even ten, because as long as it is something – it helps create a habit, and that in turn creates need (to read).
Introduce a family reading routine. If there are children in the household, 15-30 minutes of daily reading can come with major benefits. Turn it into something fun, with a special snack and a sit-down together in a cozy part of the house. Read together, or separately - whatever works.
Read during lunch break. Lunch breaks at work are often short and well needed, and what better way to relax than to read a few pages of a really good book?
Keep a book with you, at all times. Read while waiting in the line at the supermarket, while getting a haircut, in the car while waiting for the kids to come out after school, read while waiting for the dinner pasta to come to a boil and, basically, read whenever there is a minute to spare.
There are good reading opportunities everywhere, it’s just that we choose not to see them. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so while it might be difficult in the beginning to start incorporating more reading in our everyday lives – it does get easier. A good writer may have the skills to write an impressive novel, but a great writer is always pushing themselves to become better. Every page we read is bound to teach us something about writing, something to help us improve and develop, and that’s what will eventually make us great. A writer needs readers, as much as a writer needs to read.
Jann E. Nilsson