Probably the number one tip that writers give other writers to improve their writing is to read.

“Three Rules for Literary Success: 1. Read a lot. 2. Write a lot. 3. Read a lot more, write a lot more.”

–Robert Silverberg

This is something I don’t do enough of. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading. I used to read voraciously. But it just doesn’t happen as much any more, despite my best efforts.

If I may offer some excuses, part of the problem is time. Reading takes a lot of time, and while it is enjoyable time for sure, my mind is always going a million miles a minute and thinks at any particular moment that my time would be better spent writing or getting something accomplished. (Now, oftentimes, I may think this and then not do anything productive for an hour, so you’d think I could use that time to read instead. Sometimes my mind disagrees.) There’s a lot of things I do, and a lot of things I want to do in a day, and reading sometimes gets pushed to the back burner.

But it shouldn’t. I have shelves of books I haven’t read yet that I want to read, that I should read, that I have to read. It’s important for my development as a writer, for research, for enjoyment, for culture.

But of course, I do read — a lot, actually. I read all of my peers’ work for all four of my workshops (which I once calculated as somewhere around close to a thousand pages over the school year). That’s a lot of educational, informative reading. But it doesn’t lessen my pile of reading I want to do.

Two days ago, I finally took the time to sit and read for a few hours. I finished a book I’d started two months ago. It was really good — spectacular, even, inspiring. It made me realize that I really do need to read more, I need to take the time to read more, I need to make the time to read more. So I’ve resolved to do that. I’m going to start a new book soon and read it whenever I can.

All I need to do first is finish my writing assignment for the week, check out a couple blogs, go to class, work on my novel…

Writing , ,


  1. RobMagus

    I suggest reading in the bathroom and on the bus. I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve finished simply because I would read them during what would otherwise be downtime.

    • Lucas J.W. Johnson

      See, I’ve often thought about doing that, reading on the bus or while just hanging around somewhere. And I have, sometimes. But more often than not, I find that I’d rather that downtime be, well, downtime. I think I sometimes need that time do just let my mind go, let it wander and think and have all the little gears go through their little clicking and turning, almost as if if I don’t my mind will explode from too many thoughts trying to be had at once. I guess to me that downtime is like sleep. But then, maybe that’s in my imagination and sleep will do just fine and I could actually get some reading done and at the same time not stress out about all the things my mind wants to think about.

  2. mom

    I agree with Rob – reading on the bus, even for 15 minutes, is a great way to get some reading and downtime at the same time. All you have to do is consider reading downtime. I always had a book with me (as you well know) to read while I was waiting for you after school, or waiting outside during your piano lessons or guitar lessons, or waiting at the doctor’s office, etc, etc. (And of course, my favourite, reading while cooking dinner, because it was usually the only time you and your brother left me alone, as you wanted dinner!) Keep a book in your school bag for bus reading. You can have a different book beside your bed. Some people (like Barb) have a book for the morning (that requires more concentration), a book in her bag (for spare moments of waiting) and a book by the bed (that requires less concentration). Consider the day not complete until you’ve read for 15 minutes!

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