Writers need to be avid readers. We all know this. It is some of the most widely given writing advice there is. In order to write good stories, we need to be familiar with genre conventions, to have a firm sense of what has come before us. Besides, if we hope that others will someday read our work, we should equally support the work of others. However, the reality of balancing writing time and reading time against all of the other commitments we have can be difficult.
There are a few different tips I have for approaching how to balance writing and reading. This is just what works for me and these tips are not a universal solution. That said, I hope that some of you find them to be helpful.
- Schedule It In
I have a bullet journal that I use all the time. I write down everything I have to do each day and also track a few different habits. One of the habits I track is trying to read at least 30 minutes each day. Sometimes I do this on the train on my way into work. Other days, I read before bed. Each day, I look at what I need to accomplish and figure out where I can slot in my reading and writing time.
- A Little Goes a Long Way
As I noted above, my goal is to read 30 minutes each day. That isn't very much, but it does add up over time. While it can feel like I should be tearing through books at a much faster rate, I just don't realistically have the time to constantly binge read books without my writing suffering for it. Slow and steady is better than not reading at all.
I've mentioned them before, but I will say it again: audiobooks are amazing. If you don't listen to audiobooks, I highly recommend that you try them out. Audiobooks can allow you to fit extra reading into your day while doing mundane tasks like commuting, doing laundry, or making dinner.
- Double Up
One way that I try to maximize my reading is to double up and read a nonfiction book and a fiction book at the same time. Generally, my nonfiction book is on audio and my fiction book is a physical book. That said, sometimes I will read nonfiction during the week and fiction on the weekends, when I have a little more time to read. By doubling up or alternating the kinds of books I am reading, I find that I generally get through books faster.
- Change Up the Genre
When I am writing a first draft, I try to avoid reading anything that is too close in genre or tone to what I am writing. During first drafts, I often read nonfiction instead because, whether intentional or not, I find that fiction can rub off on what I'm writing. Sometimes it is a plot structure, sometimes it is a writer's voice or style, but it can be distracting and make more work for me during the editing process. Instead, I try to read genres I'm less familiar with.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to try to balance reading and writing. Let me know if you've tried any of these tips or if you have a tip you think I should try!