Who has Time to Read?

Writing well requires reading. It gets the synapses firing. To some degree it’s not even important what you read; fiction, advice, spiritual pursuits—whatever, but I do suggest that you take a break from the screen and go old school. Turn to the paper page.

Read something that forces you to focus on what another writer has to say about a topic that you are either fascinated by, or that you know nothing about.

Who has time to read?

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that you do, and much more than you thought possible.

Try an experiment. Look around for anything you have already set aside with the intention of reading. Chances are, you have books, magazines, or other reading materials squirreled away that would be perfect for this exercise. Take five minutes right now and gather them.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait until you come back.

Still here.

Um…you need to get up.

No really, I mean it. Right now.

Tick.Tick.Tick.

I’m still here.

Got them?

Pick a highly visible spot to keep all that you have gathered. Choose only one item and immediately stash it in your purse, backpack, or briefcase.

I can rather easily guarantee that within the following 24 hours, at least once, you will find yourself with several consecutive minutes, perhaps as much as a half hour of idle time. Instead of checking your phone for emails or texts first, pull out that reading and begin. Stop only when it is (a) completed or (b) when it is no longer safe or acceptable to continue. (No walking into traffic or marble support columns please.)

You’ll probably discover that you have a shocking amount of idle time that you didn’t realize existed; particularly time spent waiting in lines, in waiting rooms, or for the arrival of other people. You may even notice that you finish reading and still have time on your hands.

When you have completed one reading, consider whether it’s worth talking about. What you read may be of interest to a colleague or friend, or something you want to learn more about. In any case, keep that reading pile highly visible, continually adding new items and taking one with you everywhere you go.

Reading deliberately keeps your mind active, literally providing you food for thought. The more you are thinking, the more you’ll have to write about.

In what ways does reading help to inspire your writing?

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