How to Fit in More Reading

Writers should read as much as they write. As Stephen King puts it, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Reading helps you as a writer by letting you see what kind of stories are out there and observing how others’ write. Reading a lot surrounds you with words and stories and makes it easier to write your own stories.

But writers often have a hard time fitting in reading. And there are two main reasons for this.

The first is that reading is time-consuming. Writers are often already doing their writing in their spare time on top of day jobs and don’t have any extra time to read, no matter how much it would benefit them. Since I only have a part-time job as a babysitter, I don’t have too much experience with this reason for not being able to read, but I do struggle a lot with reading slumps. I go through many periods of time in which nothing sounds good and I simply don’t want to read.

Whether you have trouble fitting in time to read or are struggling to find something you want to read, I have ideas to help you fit in more reading so that you can have the tools you need for your writing.

King blog quote
This quote by Stephen King sums up the need for writers to read.

Time-Restraint Tips

  • Audiobooks
    I’ve written before about how I love audiobooks and how they can be a great writing resource. Listening to books as I get ready in the morning or for bed, or while doing housework, is an excellent way to fit more reading into your day even when you don’t have time to sit down with a book in your hands. If you have a commute to your day job, try audiobooks to fill that time with more reading.
  • Always have a book with you
    You never know when you might have a few minutes to read. I don’t usually carry a physical book with me, but I have apps on my phone with ebooks and audiobooks. However, when I know there’s a high probability of having time to read (like at doctor appointments or at babysitting jobs during nap times) I always bring a physical book.
  • Schedule it
    If you struggle to find time to read but know how valuable it can be to your writing, schedule it! Reading is important and we should treat it as such. In my writing planner I schedule it out so that I can read a third to a half of two different novels each week and a chapter a day or so of a nonfiction book about writing. You’d be amazed how much reading you can get in if you break it down and schedule a handful of pages per day.

Reading Slump Tips

  • Quick Books
    Sometimes I get into a slump because the book I’m reading is really long and it’s taking forever to get through it. Long books may make you feel like you’re not getting any reading done at all simply because it takes a long time to finish. I love to read short books. A book you can finish quickly can give you the boost of confidence you need to get back into reading. Graphic novels and novels-in-verse are my favorite quick books.
  • Something Different
    When nothing sounds good to read, sometimes all you need is something different to make reading exciting again. Try something outside your comfort zone—a book in a genre you never would’ve picked up before. If you only read YA (like me) try an adult fiction novel. If you usually read fiction, try a memoir or poetry. If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, give it a try! You might like it as much as I did. Something outside the norm could help you jump back into a reading groove.

Do you have any tips about fitting in reading to add to the list?

Falling in Love with Audiobooks

Back in high school, I hated (almost) everything we were assigned to read. To me, they were all boring books that were written a hundred years ago that had nothing to do with my life. Though I was retaught some of them in college and actually like them now, like The Great Gatsby, I sadly still have little patience for anything written before my lifetime. However, I discovered in high school something that made reading all of those books bearable—audiobooks.

I would get the texts on CD from the library and listen as I drove to and from school. It was so easy to fly through the day’s reading assignment by doing this, and it made the books even kind of interesting. It was nice to have a story be read aloud to me, like a parent tucking you into bed.

I then went to college and, being an English major, lost all time to read what I actually wanted to read. My days were filled with the dozens of assigned texts I had to read for my classes. And being forced to read all of these books made me lose my love for reading.

When I graduated I rediscovered my love after realizing how much time I now had to read. It’s been almost two years since I’ve graduated, and I’ve read 102 novels. But I think that the number will be much higher for the coming years, as I have also rediscovered my love of audiobooks.

It started with a book that I found difficult to read in print but that I loved the concept of—Need, by Joelle Charbonneau. I enjoyed reading The Testing trilogy by Charbonneau, so when I saw her new book was about the dangers of social media, I had to pick it up. I gave up after about fifty pages though, as I felt it wasn’t smooth on the page. But then a few months later I found the audiobook version at my library, and I gave it another try. And I am so glad I did.

need
Need by Joelle Charbonneau

Just like those books in high school, listening to the audiobook made the story so much more interesting and easy to get through. And this story was so worth it, because it ended up being an incredible book about how social media can make teenagers do things they would not do without the anonymity of the Internet and make them complete seemingly random and secretly dangerous tasks with the promise of a material reward.

After falling in love with audiobooks again, I discovered an app that my library lets you use for free—called Hoopla—that has tons of audiobooks on it. And the best part is that you can listen to them at varying speeds. I like to listen at 1.5x normal speed, so I can get through books quickly. And I love that it is on my Kindle and phone, so that I can listen as I get ready in the morning instead of having to use a CD player or just listen in the car.

hoopla-dumplin
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy on Hoopla’s App

So I encourage you, if you have trouble getting into books or even finding the time to read, try audiobooks. It is really interesting to have a novel read aloud to you, and doing so makes it so much easier to fit reading into your day.