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How To Make Reading A Part Of Your Life

by Greer | Content Lead | Writing Tips | Writer's Life

They walk among us: Passionate writers who just. Do. Not. Read. And that’s okay. No, really! Your lack of reading habits does not make you any less of a driven writer, and We Got Story isn't about to get up on a high horse and wave the Stick of Superiority at you. That said, we cannot diminish the huge benefits reading offers to practising writers - from seamlessly enhancing your vocabulary and sense of characterisation, to recognising effective prose techniques from the not-so-effective. A love for reading doesn't form overnight, and forcing yourself through pages and pages for the sake of making it to the end is a sure way to sour your view so it is vital to do it for the right reasons and with the right measures. If you are looking to start up or simply improve on your reading habits then - Good news! - we have a great selection of tips to get you there!


Start Small, But Do It Often


Don’t try to tackle a novel if you don’t have a reading habit established. You wouldn't start your hill-walking journey by scaling Everest, so don't make a similar mistake in reading materials. Look up 100-word stories online and read one for every hour you are awake, spacing them out or reading back-to-back to fit your schedule. Ideally you will allocate at least 3 different points in your day to reading something. Do this until it is an established routine and reading doesn’t feel so odd. Poems are also great, as most are small yet powerful. If sitting down to do this one activity just doesn't feel right, slot them into everyday occasions such as mealtimes or whilst travelling on public transport. Even swapping out a few social media check ins will do the trick.



Work at Increasing Word Count


When ready, you can swap a 100-word story for a magazine or online article. Or, if you are keen on keeping it story-centred, flash fiction is a good stepping-stone up to short stories. Make this a once-or-twice-a-day event to gradually extend your concentrated reading periods without heavily impacting your day. Remember: We are trying to create a new habit. This will take time and there is no shame in spending a while on each increased word count. Only move on when you feel your life has embraced this new activity.



Build Towards Chapters


Again, a novel is a big commitment. You could safely stick with short stories and articles by increasing the number you read in the same time frame, but if you are determined to step closer into the world's library there are ways to do this. Try the 3-chapter method: Tell yourself you will only read 3 chapters of a book. Once you finish the third, you can choose to drop it and move on guilt-free. Three chapters is your goal, and once achieved you owe it no more of your time. A chapter a day is a good start, but maintaining a regular, doable pace it more important. You may find yourself eager to start a new book as you go - amazing! The best result finds you wanting to read beyond the 3rd chapter. If that happens, you are over a massive reading-aversion hurdle: you actually want to read! Other low-commitment avenues include novelettes and novellas. They can be trickier to find in print but are no less wonderful options.



Technology Is Your Friend


Carrying a book around might not be good for your needs, with it often requiring 2 hands to turn pages or it may just be too bulky to carry around everywhere. Good news! In this day and age, this shouldn't be an issue. For those who want to read on the go, the likes of Kindles or other tablets might be better for you due to their light-weight and ability to hold several books, magazines and articles that are mere clicks away. If you don’t want to purchase anything, most libraries will have borrowing options even for eBooks and some authors will have freebies if you look for them. If carrying a tablet is also a bit much for your lifestyle, I can also recommend a simple smartphone - most are also able to hold multiple books. Book lovers and reading newbies alike can share a love for audiobooks too, meaning you don't always need to be reading with your eyes. Many are even available on Spotify and free on Youtube so you don't need to download a bunch of new apps to try it out.



Value Writer Over Plot


This is a special moment in your journey: taking stock of what you enjoyed. You may already know a few writers you like the style of or the genre you are most drawn-in with. If so - fantastic! If not, some reflection on your reading experiences so far is key. Read new material and really dwell on what gets you excited to keep reading. It’s imperative you aim for plots that genuinely interest you. Yet, a weak writer could spoil your first steps into reading for enjoyment with poor quality writing and a lacklustre plot. With self-publishing becoming more and more common - and there are many benefits to this! - the odds of you starting a poorly-made story are higher than they would have been a mere decade ago. How can you avoid this risk? Utilise your reader buddies! Ask around for author recommendations and focus on ‘good writer’ rather than ‘good story’. People read for the ride, not the plot points. A well-written story can do wonders even with a lesser storyline, but a bad writer will rarely do a good idea justice. Stick with author recommendations. There are also numerous online book clubs which will give you some nifty shortcuts to the 'good stuff', and reading spoiler-free reviews will let you know what others liked or disliked. Ask yourself what you appreciate more: detailed world-building (e.g. J. R. R. Tolkien) or straight-to-the-point events (e.g. Stephen King)? That sort of question could be a good starting point!


Read Non-Books


Yet, with all this reading material to hand, many just plain don’t want books. Take a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor and check that the world did not end. All good? Right. Those with book-aversions are not going to be left out in the cold. You can up your reading game with many other avenues without losing out on those amazing reading skills we mentioned at the start. Continue with online articles, delving into meatier and lengthier pieces. If you are keen to learn more on a particular subject, blog series or academic articles will challenge you in more ways than one. Experimenting with different magazines and newspapers will expose you to new voice styles, and even smaller chunks from leaflets are better than not reading at all.



Try Fanfiction


Oh no, I may have lost some of you! Fanfiction is a tense area among writers and readers, but there's a lot more good to experience than bad. Let's not be so quick on the offensive! In the same way that most find it easier to continue watching a TV show they are already familiar with compared to a new series, already knowing a fandom's world and the characters they are likely to meet can make reading a story a lot less intimidating. Barriers such as learning the background setup and character history are gone. It could feel as familiar as settling in to watch another episode of a show you love. Pick a fandom you have a lot of knowledge about or are currently invested in and check out the wonders of online fan fiction - even the bad ones can be somewhat enjoyable!



Remember Rome Was Not Built In A Day


Reading is a skill. Even avid readers, the ones who ‘came out the womb with a book in hand’ had to learn to enjoy reading, though we may not remember those days. Coming at it later will always be a big task, and you should give yourself a break if you find it tough. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to instantly read like a pro. Reading muscles need to be trained, and the more you read, the more you’ll get from it. Your training yourself for marathon-like skills, not a splash in the pan. You got this.


They walk among us: Passionate writers who just. Do. Not. Read. And that’s okay. No, really! Your lack of reading habits does not make you any less of a driven writer, and We Got Story isn't about to get up on a high horse and wave the Stick of Superiority at you. That said, we cannot diminish the huge benefits reading offers to practising writers - from seamlessly enhancing your vocabulary and sense of characterisation, to recognising effective prose techniques from the not-so-effective. A love for reading doesn't form overnight, and forcing yourself through pages and pages for the sake of making it to the end is a sure way to sour your view so it is vital to do it for the right reasons and with the right measures. If you are looking to start up or simply improve on your reading habits then - Good news! - we have a great selection of tips to get you there!


Start Small, But Do It Often


Don’t try to tackle a novel if you don’t have a reading habit established. You wouldn't start your hill-walking journey by scaling Everest, so don't make a similar mistake in reading materials. Look up 100-word stories online and read one for every hour you are awake, spacing them out or reading back-to-back to fit your schedule. Ideally you will allocate at least 3 different points in your day to reading something. Do this until it is an established routine and reading doesn’t feel so odd. Poems are also great, as most are small yet powerful. If sitting down to do this one activity just doesn't feel right, slot them into everyday occasions such as mealtimes or whilst travelling on public transport. Even swapping out a few social media check ins will do the trick.



Work at Increasing Word Count


When ready, you can swap a 100-word story for a magazine or online article. Or, if you are keen on keeping it story-centred, flash fiction is a good stepping-stone up to short stories. Make this a once-or-twice-a-day event to gradually extend your concentrated reading periods without heavily impacting your day. Remember: We are trying to create a new habit. This will take time and there is no shame in spending a while on each increased word count. Only move on when you feel your life has embraced this new activity.



Build Towards Chapters


Again, a novel is a big commitment. You could safely stick with short stories and articles by increasing the number you read in the same time frame, but if you are determined to step closer into the world's library there are ways to do this. Try the 3-chapter method: Tell yourself you will only read 3 chapters of a book. Once you finish the third, you can choose to drop it and move on guilt-free. Three chapters is your goal, and once achieved you owe it no more of your time. A chapter a day is a good start, but maintaining a regular, doable pace it more important. You may find yourself eager to start a new book as you go - amazing! The best result finds you wanting to read beyond the 3rd chapter. If that happens, you are over a massive reading-aversion hurdle: you actually want to read! Other low-commitment avenues include novelettes and novellas. They can be trickier to find in print but are no less wonderful options.



Technology Is Your Friend


Carrying a book around might not be good for your needs, with it often requiring 2 hands to turn pages or it may just be too bulky to carry around everywhere. Good news! In this day and age, this shouldn't be an issue. For those who want to read on the go, the likes of Kindles or other tablets might be better for you due to their light-weight and ability to hold several books, magazines and articles that are mere clicks away. If you don’t want to purchase anything, most libraries will have borrowing options even for eBooks and some authors will have freebies if you look for them. If carrying a tablet is also a bit much for your lifestyle, I can also recommend a simple smartphone - most are also able to hold multiple books. Book lovers and reading newbies alike can share a love for audiobooks too, meaning you don't always need to be reading with your eyes. Many are even available on Spotify and free on Youtube so you don't need to download a bunch of new apps to try it out.



Value Writer Over Plot


This is a special moment in your journey: taking stock of what you enjoyed. You may already know a few writers you like the style of or the genre you are most drawn-in with. If so - fantastic! If not, some reflection on your reading experiences so far is key. Read new material and really dwell on what gets you excited to keep reading. It’s imperative you aim for plots that genuinely interest you. Yet, a weak writer could spoil your first steps into reading for enjoyment with poor quality writing and a lacklustre plot. With self-publishing becoming more and more common - and there are many benefits to this! - the odds of you starting a poorly-made story are higher than they would have been a mere decade ago. How can you avoid this risk? Utilise your reader buddies! Ask around for author recommendations and focus on ‘good writer’ rather than ‘good story’. People read for the ride, not the plot points. A well-written story can do wonders even with a lesser storyline, but a bad writer will rarely do a good idea justice. Stick with author recommendations. There are also numerous online book clubs which will give you some nifty shortcuts to the 'good stuff', and reading spoiler-free reviews will let you know what others liked or disliked. Ask yourself what you appreciate more: detailed world-building (e.g. J. R. R. Tolkien) or straight-to-the-point events (e.g. Stephen King)? That sort of question could be a good starting point!


Read Non-Books


Yet, with all this reading material to hand, many just plain don’t want books. Take a moment to pick your jaw up from the floor and check that the world did not end. All good? Right. Those with book-aversions are not going to be left out in the cold. You can up your reading game with many other avenues without losing out on those amazing reading skills we mentioned at the start. Continue with online articles, delving into meatier and lengthier pieces. If you are keen to learn more on a particular subject, blog series or academic articles will challenge you in more ways than one. Experimenting with different magazines and newspapers will expose you to new voice styles, and even smaller chunks from leaflets are better than not reading at all.



Try Fanfiction


Oh no, I may have lost some of you! Fanfiction is a tense area among writers and readers, but there's a lot more good to experience than bad. Let's not be so quick on the offensive! In the same way that most find it easier to continue watching a TV show they are already familiar with compared to a new series, already knowing a fandom's world and the characters they are likely to meet can make reading a story a lot less intimidating. Barriers such as learning the background setup and character history are gone. It could feel as familiar as settling in to watch another episode of a show you love. Pick a fandom you have a lot of knowledge about or are currently invested in and check out the wonders of online fan fiction - even the bad ones can be somewhat enjoyable!



Remember Rome Was Not Built In A Day


Reading is a skill. Even avid readers, the ones who ‘came out the womb with a book in hand’ had to learn to enjoy reading, though we may not remember those days. Coming at it later will always be a big task, and you should give yourself a break if you find it tough. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to instantly read like a pro. Reading muscles need to be trained, and the more you read, the more you’ll get from it. Your training yourself for marathon-like skills, not a splash in the pan. You got this.


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