The blog posts I’ve been doing every Tuesday started as an offshoot of my Dusting Off the Classics “main channel,” if you will, and to be honest, I still don’t quite know where I’m going with these Tuesday posts. But in the past couple of weeks, I have talked about ways you can become a better reader or improving your reading. I’ve weighed the pros and cons of ebooks, given advice on being a slow reader, and discussed the benefits (and drawbacks) of having a yearly reading goal.
What about, though, on a true day-to-day basis? Tracking your annual reading, obviously, takes a whole twelve months to implement, and it took me months–if not years, now that I think about it–to improve my reading speed. However, it’s just as important to see daily growth as a reader, and that’s what I’ll go over today.
I don’t know if anyone else does this, but in addition to my yearly reading goal, I have a daily reading goal. It’s 75-80 pages.
Yes, you read that right. 75-80. Which is, of course, lower than the 100 I mention in the title. That’s because, I admit, I haven’t reached my real goal of 100 for months, and have stuck to a modified (read: reduced) version of 75-80 to stop beating myself up about it. You might think I’m overreacting to missing that goal, but as a creative writer, I take my reading pretty seriously due to the oft-repeated and true manta of Good Writers Are Good Readers.
So I don’t read 100 pages per day. But I’m trying to get back on that track, and I’ve decided to share some strategies I’m planning to use to get me to that number. By the way, you can use these tactics for any daily reading goal–that 100 number is completely arbitrary. If you’re just starting out as a big reader, I would recommend going for 30 pages and then working your way up.
- Habit of association. I’m a huge fan of reading psychology articles, and one of the topics that’s always intrigued me is how humans form habits, both good and bad. One way you can boost your reading in a big way is to associate reading with something you already do a lot without even thinking about it–aka a habit. According to this Variety article, the typical American checks their phone 52 times per day. 52 times! That’s definitely an established habit for most of us. If you read 2 pages before glancing at your phone, then you’d easily reach a 100-page-per-day goal.
- Take a Book with You. Okay, this is a tactic that I still struggle with, but consider taking a book along with you, no matter where you go. Stephen King recommended doing so in On Writing, and there’s no way I’m disagreeing with him on this. I’ve never had long, productive reading periods while waiting for an appointment or a TV show to come on, but, then again, at least I was reading, and that’s what matters.
- On a Related Note . . . Should you read in short bursts, like two pages before checking your phone, or in long chunks of time where no one bothers you and you read dozens and dozens of pages? I try to do both. I prefer longer periods because they allow you to get “in the zone” mentally that a shorter time, by nature, just can’t do. But I’ll be realistic: if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have a full-time job, errands, and chores, and maybe kids to take care of, too. This means you’ll probably never get long chunks of free time. Instead, adopt the philosophy of “a little bit of reading is better than no reading at all.”
- Increasing your reading speed, is, of course, a great way to read more in a day. Just don’t read so fast that the words stop making sense.
- Your phone is your friend (in some ways). Set reminders that say READ at a particular time. Download an app like Goodreads to track your reading progress. On social media, talk about what you and others are reading, and you’ll probably have an inkling to dive into the pages.
- Divide and conquer. If I haven’t read 40 pages by noon, I know there’s no way I’ll hit my daily goal of 80 by the time I hit the sack. Divide your day into mini-deadlines. That way, you don’t put off all your reading until the end of it, when you know there’s no way you can catch up and reach your goal. So if I wanted to read 100 pages a day, I might set up a system of 25 pages by 8 a.m., another 25 by noon, 25 by suppertime, and 25 again before sleep. Sounds doable!
- Finally, read first thing. Most people–most Americans, at least–start their day off by checking their phones. If you replaced that habit by reading, if just for a few pages, then you’ll be well on your way towards being a better reader.
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