Reading is essential for all writers. It serves as inspiration, motivation and yes – boredom-busters.
Truth is, if we’re not writing, then we should be reading, even when we don’t feel like it.
But when you have kids, this advice it a little easier said than done. If you’re anything like me, then it becomes near impossible said than done. There are days when I can barely keep my eyes open to wash the dishes, let alone read a newspaper or magazine article or the kids’ bedtime books.
But because writing is what I do, I know it’s essential for me to remain sharp – and reading is the only form of exercise that keeps me aware of what I should be – or not – doing.
So here’s how I keep my reading skills on point, and not fall asleep while I’m at it.
- Set Reminders. I use apps to remind me to read. Coach Me is a good one, although a simple calendar reminder would serve the same purpose.
- Make a Pile of Books. I’m honestly reading three books at the same time. Sure, I forget what I’m reading and I’ll reread chapters, but it keeps me disciplined – and entertained. If I’m feeling like an easy read, I’ll pick up a magazine. But if I think I can dig in deeper, then I’ll read a Spanish book. I also have classics handy for when I want to bring something creative out of me. Right now, I have the “Invisible Man” on my nightstand.
- Don’t Keep Track. I know this defeats the purpose, but honestly, as long as you’re reading, and finishing magazine articles and books, it doesn’t matter how many pages per day it took you to get there. I used to keep track, but then got frustrated when I would get interrupted and forgot to set a timer or whatever other “mom thing” happened to remind why I shouldn’t have a strategy to read in the first place.
- Keep It Fun. Always be sure to have fun when you’re reading. This shouldn’t feel like school, and if it does, then maybe take a break and just write for a few days. See where your literature brain wants to take you.
- You Will Fall Asleep. There will be days when you will probably put yourself to sleep. I’ve done it many, many times. Especially when I’m reading to my kids. I’m now getting into the habit of reading to them what I’m reading. The teen complains, but eventually deals with it. There’s only so much “Mom, this is boring!” she can do, before realizing I’m simply enjoying a book and there’s nothing she can do about it. My two-year-old just likes the sound of my voice and still doesn’t quite understand the difference between Arthur and the latest The Sun magazine.
The point is that what applied before, when we were in elementary, middle or high school, reading, because we had all the time in the world, applies to now – when we feel like we have none of it.
Because it’s still the same hours in the day, and although a little grayer, we should still have that passion for it.