We’ve talked about a lot of routines at Routines for Writers in the last few years. Things to routinely do, things to routinely avoid, things that break up your routines. But I don’t know that we’ve talked much about a routine many writers say they have no time for – reading!
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I am amazed by the number of times I hear writers say they don’t have time to read. But I also understand the dilemma. There are only so many hours in a day, a week, a year. Many of us complain that we don’t have enough time. Many of us worry we aren’t using our time wisely. How does the value of one hour of reading compare with one hour of writing, or sleeping, or time with family?
When taken out of context, it’s difficult to compare these things. But I think most things in life fall into cycles. For me, that cycle is most notably one day. I do certain things at certain times of the day and, when it comes to reading, I can almost always count on having 15-60 minutes at night.
I find I sleep better if my mind relaxes around a story, something I don’t have to think about but can just float on. When I read non-fiction at night, I usually dream about the topic – not great for a good night’s sleep, but I used to solve math problems this way in college!
Like my own target audience, I am a reader who sometimes craves an escape from my everyday life. When I’m really stressed out, I need to read romances. In fact, high stress situations are almost the only thing that make me return to a book more than once. When I’m calm and relaxed and nothing interesting is happening in my life, I crave excitement and danger in my reading life.
But I’m finding those reading cycles incredibly helpful to my writing. Because I read at least a little of so many genres, and because it might take me a year or more (or as little as a month) to cycle through romance, YA, suspense, fantasy, and more, my story brain is constantly being fed new and different ideas. Those all combine like eggs and flour and cocoa make brownies – to help me create some sweet treats of my own!
I love reading and my guess is you do, too. I encourage you to make – and keep – reading one of your writing routines. When you need a break from life, from work, from writer’s block, or you just have a few minutes to relax, reading is the perfect routine.
Kitty Bucholtz is a writer and speaker, and a member of Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of Australia. She co-founded Routines for Writers, a web site dedicated to helping writers write more, and she recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing. You can follow Kitty on her web site or on Twitter at @KittyBucholtz.
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