Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Discipline of Reading

Almost every day someone approaches me about reading their book and then they want me to write a review. I get these approaches from publishers, from publicists and from authors. Many of them I respond and appreciate the offer but turn them down and point to a free resource such as this one.  The truth is each of us have limited time to read. Yet for writers reading is (and should be) a consitent part of your daily life. Is it?

In this article, I'm going to give several ideas how to use the discipline of reading. Most of us don't like the word “discipline” yet from my experience, reading has to be in your daily plans or it simply does not happen. I repeatedly read about how the volume of reading for many adults continues to drop—like one book a year for men after they graduate from high school. On the other end of the success scale (millionaires), I read these people are continually reading for their own personal development and growth.

While my reading varies throughout the day, I do have a number of routine times when I consitently read. the first period is in the morning. I am an early riser and will breeze through my email then I begin to read my Bible.  Each year I select a different version and this year I'm reading The Daily Message by Eugene Peterson. Each day includes a Bible passage along with a short reading from the Psalms or Proverbs. After completing my Bible reading, I read the newspaper cover to cover. As a journalist, it is a long-term habit to read a real newspaper. Because I live in Colorado, I read the Denver Post cover to cover.

I have a comfortable chair in my office where I read in the evenings. Often late at night I spend an hour or more reading various books. As I read or listen to a book, I track my progress on Goodreads (one of the tools they provide). Because I have 5,000 friends on Goodreads, even my reading progress gets reaction from others (and I can see their reaction and comments).

Besides reading physical books, throughout the day, I am also reading blogs and other information which comes into my email box. Many of these blogs are focused on publishing or books. If they have relevant information for my social media, then I will put them into my Hootsuite feed for future social media posting. I learn a great deal from others reading these articles as I curate the content for my social media followers.

Besides reading in the morning and evening, I also listen to audiobooks if I am in my car (even for a few minutes) or exercising. I've mentioned in the past that I use Overdrive for these audiobooks (free from the public library).  There is a wide selection of books on Overdrive but I tend to gravitate toward history, self-help, how-to, personal development, and memoir. The majority of these books are nonfiction. I do read some fiction but my fiction reading is limited to a few titles a year. It is not surprising that I've written many nonfiction books and continually read in the nonfiction area. It's what I recommend to you as a writer. If you write fiction, then you should be reading your particular genre of fiction. If you write nonfiction, you should be reading in this area and aware of the trends, bestselling authors and other such activity.

You can see how reading permeates my day. What happens after I have finished reading a book? As I read the book, I will mark a couple of passages which capture the essence of the book or I deemed significant. Shortly after I finish the book, I will write a review in a Word file. This Word file is where I write my rough draft of the book. In general I quote something from the book in my review (shows I actually read the book) and my review is typically 150 to 250 words (not just a sentence but more substantial).  Over the years, I've written hundreds of print magazine reviews. In recent years I've written over 900 reviews on Amazon (see my profile) and over 550 reviews on Goodreads (see my profile). This volume of reviews did not happen overnight but is something I've been doing consistently for years. It's one of the reasons people frequently ask me to review their books (and if I have the time and interest, I may do it).

Writers are readers. What does your reading schedule look like? How are you practicing the discipline of reading and incorporating it into your day? Let me know in the comments below.


When do you read throughout your day? Get ideas and inspiration from this prolific reader and writer. (ClickToTweet)

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